IDF Knew Real Hamas HQ While Lying About al-Shifa 

While telling the world that Hamas HQ was under al-Shifa Hospital, the IDF had already found the actual command center 8.5km away, reports Gareth Porter.

Wounded Palestinians wait for treatment at the overcrowded emergency ward of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on October 11, 2023. (Wafa (Q2915969) in contract with a local company (APAimages)??/Wikimedia Commons

By Gareth Porter
Special to Consortium News

Although corporate news media have made it clear they don’t buy the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim that al-Shifa Hospital has been a cover for a Hamas command and control center and weapons armory, Western media have failed to report a much bigger story.

The IDF and the Israeli government already knew when they launched their propaganda campaign about al-Shifa that Hamas had no military command and control facility hidden there because it had already found the complex kilometers away.

As Consortium News reported last week, for 15 years the Israelis claimed  Hamas was operating its primary command and control base from a tunnel underneath al-Shifa. After the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza began in October, the Israeli military amplified that message to press its contention that by hiding the Hamas high command, al-Shifa Hospital had lost its immunity from military operations under the law of war, and could now legitimately be taken over by force.

On Nov. 11, IDF spokesman Richard Hecht declared that al-Shifa was the “main hub of Hamas activity;” Newsweek reported the IDF regarded al-Shifa Hospital as “Hamas’s main command post” and the Times of Israel headlined “Hamas leaders again hiding under hospital”.

The crescendo of Israeli propaganda about al-Shifa being a “human shield” for Hamas came with a long report published by The New York Times on Nov. 14. It was based on interviews with eight present and former intelligence and defense officials, describing a vast military command complex under al-Shifa with multiple levels.

But something quite unexpected had happened during this new round of press stories on al-Shifa that completely demolished the entire IDF story line: the IDF had gained control of the real Hamas command and control center in an area where the Hamas leadership had previously had their above-ground offices in the Al Atatra neighborhood, in the extreme northwest of Beit Lahiya city, 8.5km away from al-Shifa.

After that office building was demolished, the IDF discovered a major tunnel facility that was quite certain had been the central headquarters for the Hamas high command — the command and control center for the entire war. 

As the IDF leaked to The Jerusalem Post in a story published Nov. 14, the discovery was made “several days ago” of a tunnel with an elevator that reached thirty meters underground, compared with only five meters underground in other tunnels.  Furthermore it had been equipped with oxygen, air conditioning and more advanced communications than seen anywhere else.

Discovery of Real Hamas High Command Bunker

Map shows route to al-Shifa Hospital from the real HQ. (Google Maps)

That major IDF discovery, made on or before the Nov. 11 false stories about al-Shifa, threatened to undermine the Israeli political campaign to justify the IDF’s takeover and destruction of Gaza’s hospitals on the grounds that they were “human shields” for Hamas.

Al-Shifa Hospital was the centerpiece of that campaign, based on the claim that it was hiding the high command of Hamas in a tunnel underneath it. Obviously the IDF and the extreme right-wing Israel government would want to stop all further publicity about the discovery of the actual Hamas high command’s underground base.

No story about the discovery of the real Hamas high command bunker has been published inside Israel or elsewhere in the nearly two weeks since the detailed Jerusalem Post piece on Nov. 14. Somehow the Israeli government and media have been able to completely suppress the discovery of the Hamas headquarters, despite the fact that a number of foreign news media have offices in Tel Aviv and the story is still available on the internet.

Instead of forcing a major climb-down by the IDF and the Netanyahu and the Biden administrations, the discovery of the real Hamas underground high-command center merely brought a slight revision in the wording used to refer to the issue.

Sullivan Revises Wording of Issue

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaking to reporters in August 2021. (White House/ Erin Scott)

That slight nuance was introduced not by the IDF, but by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Nov. 13, when he said:

“You can see even from open-source reporting that Hamas does use hospitals, along with a lot of other civilian facilities, for command and control, for storing weapons, for housing its fighters.” [emphasis added.] 

And a U.S. official familiar with “U.S. intelligence” who may also have been Sullivan, commented that Hamas had a “command node” under al-Shifa Hospital, using a term that Israeli officials apparently adopted in light of the new discovery of the actual high-command bunker.

Thus the IDF arrived at al-Shifa late at night on Nov. 15, a day after The Jerusalem Post story, to begin the process of the Israeli takeover with a propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the American public in particular that Hamas had been inside the hospital.

Several hours later that morning, in a seven-minute video inside the MRI building, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus showed “grab bags” of military gear with AK-47s, grenades and uniforms neatly arranged on the floor. He insisted that Hamas had used the MRI room to store weapons and military gear.  He also  produced one computer, which he suggested had been found to contain “incriminating evidence” of military relevance.

The most obvious problem with this seven-minute video, however, is that it showed nothing that could not have been easily brought into the building by the IDF itself. The more serious problem with the presentation is that it offered no plausible reason for Hamas to have hidden a few dozen small weapons and other military gear in the MRI room of a hospital and then supposedly having left them there when they departed.

There was simply no need for the Hamas to store weapons there.  After all, Hamas is estimated to have 150 to 300 miles of space for such storage in its vast tunnel network.

Hagari Video Deleted

IDF Telegram channel. ( Commons)

A much bigger problem for IDF credibility on al-Shifa is that on Oct. 27, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari presented an artist’s conception showing that Hamas had taken over parts of five different buildings at al-Shifa Hospital and was using all of them to plan and coordinate its military activities.

He also showed a drawing of the structure of the main building, which he insisted was based on Israeli intelligence, showing that an underground floor of the main building was completely controlled by Hamas. He also insisted that there was an entrance within the hospital to that underground floor.

The Hagari presentation came before the discovery of the actual Hamas high-command bunker underneath the above-ground Hamas high-command office in Beit Lahiya. The IDF has now eliminated the entire video of that long, detailed and illustrated presentation by Hagari from its website, because it would become a major embarrassment to the IDF once the full truth is known.

In recent days, the IDF has fixed the world’s attention on a tunnel, the opening of which was discovered very close to the outer fence of al-Shifa Hospital grounds. The tunnel was found by the IDF to be 10m deep, compared with the 30m deep abandoned high command tunnel.

On Nov. 21, the IDF announced it had breached the heavy blast door of the tunnel, meaning that it could now determine what lay on the other side, if anything. But given that the IDF has already discovered the real Hamas command bunker elsewhere — and the absence of evidence of a connection from  hospital buildings to a tunnel — the IDF is unlikely to find such a connection from the tunnel to the hospital.

The real story of the Israeli effort to sell its argument that Hamas took over al-Shifa and other hospitals to coordinate attacks is the massive deception aimed at U.S. media and public opinion in order to justifying Israel’s war of obliteration of the population of Gaza.

That campaign of deceit has had the full-throated support of the Biden administration, which stands equally guilty of misleading the American people in its support for an illicit Israeli war.

The failure of the Israeli propaganda campaign has been so decisive that most major media organizations have explicitly distanced themselves from the Israeli claims about al-Shifa, and several have shown either field reporters or analysts in the studio declaring explicitly that the evidence displayed by the Israelis had not proved their case at all.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on U.S. national security policy. His latest book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, was published in February of 2014. Follow him on Twitter: @GarethPorter.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

24 comments for “IDF Knew Real Hamas HQ While Lying About al-Shifa 

  1. GC
    November 25, 2023 at 17:03

    Biden is nothing more than Netanyahu’s puppet at ths point. Cut off the funds/military arms once and for all to Israel and and let blood thirsty BiBi clean up his own mess. Biden can start listening to his constituents and put and end to this genocidal bull crap by getting us the hell out of this Israeli propaganda riddled war. ENOUGH BIDEN, LISTEN TO YOUR COUNTRY.

  2. jamie
    November 25, 2023 at 15:11

    Even if IDF was right about Hamas hiding below the hospital, in no instances civilians should be targeted; if we allow it, then we are no longer humans, we are talking about some sort of “post-animalistic behavior”, a destructive behavior of a species that defies the law of adaptation and survival.
    “True” humans will always find a way to defeat an enemy without endangering innocents, that is what makes us “humans”. Unfortunately, for Israel, there have been too many expression of hatred coming from Israeli leadership, from “human animals”, “there are no civilians in Gaza”, “a nuclear strike would be an option”, the call for a biblical genocide, etc.
    I have never heard such expression from Putin for example, nuclear strike was called in case of self-defense, not to purportedly use it to wipe out an ethnic group. Yet, the west has condemned Putin, accused him of crimes against humanity.
    We must prosecute Israeli leadership for its horrific crimes, if we don’t we are not humans, and if we do, then US will be next, to pay for its crimes against humanity.
    It is important to be coherent in order to move forward with humanity, to grow away from animalism and bestiality

  3. gareth moore
    November 25, 2023 at 13:25

    The real emergency room in the hospital is the IDF calling for all spin doctors to come to our aid!

  4. November 24, 2023 at 22:01

    Uh huh, they don’t even know where the camera that films Hamas’s interviews is while the interviews are being filmed, let alone any sort of headquarters, so, there’s that…

  5. YesXorNo
    November 24, 2023 at 15:54

    Thank you, Mr. Porter. Well spotted.

  6. robert e williamson jr
    November 24, 2023 at 13:21

    One must know his enemy. The history of military actions by the Israelis tells us that surprise and deception are the IDF stock and trade.

    I am never surprised by Israel actions.

    Thanks CN

  7. rex dunn
    November 23, 2023 at 23:39

    was relieved to read the word ‘abandoned’ Hamas command and control centre near the end of the article!

  8. jaycee
    November 23, 2023 at 18:31

    There will be detailed war crimes investigations when this is over (whether anything results from them will be another matter). Sullivan’s semantic revisions over al-Shifa will certainly be a data point in that effort.

    • Tim N
      November 24, 2023 at 14:42

      I doubt that, actually, unless something changes. Dubya and his cohorts walk free, and their crimes, easily proved, apparently are not enough to warrant prosecution.

  9. Abu Lincoln
    November 23, 2023 at 13:17

    I do enjoy the way that whenever there is a strong popular movement of resistance, what everyone wants to focus on is conspiracy theories about how it began. The same is true with the 1917 Russian Revolution, and now we see it again with the Al Aqsa Flood.

    Notice how a large expression of strong popular will is swept under the carpet. The focus becomes on the trains that send Lenin back to the Russian Empire. Or the original funding of Hamas way back in the day. But, where the attention should be is on the larger organization of popular will around this force. That’s what is important. Not who bought somebody a train ticket or gave somebody a check. Its not the beginning that is important, but what organized around that original seed.

    The power of the people is what is important, and must not be forgotten.

    And notice, that Hamas was always a political opponent of Yassir Arafat. So, when quoting Arafat about Hamas, one runs the risk of the same lack of accuracy as when quoting a Democrat about Republicans or vice versa. Not exactly the most reliable source. You are quoting the appeaser who trusted the Clintons and the Israelis as he is trying to discredit the faction that offered the path of resistance.

    Considering the clear record of what the Quisling path actually produced, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

      November 23, 2023 at 13:21

      Arafat is not mentioned in this article at all.

    • Cal Lash
      November 23, 2023 at 15:29

      Okay, Israel didnt know Hamas was going to Attack?!!!!

      On Oct 7?!!!!

  10. Which one is Pink
    November 23, 2023 at 12:48

    Roger Waters Poem of the Day

    “Goodbye Blue Sky”

    Look, Mummy. There’s an airplane up in the sky

    Did, did, did, did you see the frightened ones?
    Did, did, did, did you hear the falling bombs?
    Did, did, did, did you ever wonder
    Why we had to run for shelter
    When the promise of a brave new world
    Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

    Did, did, did, did you see the frightened ones?
    Did, did, did, did you hear the falling bombs?
    The flames are all long gone
    But the pain lingers on

    Goodbye blue sky
    Goodbye blue sky

    — performed by Pink Floyd on the successful album ‘The Wall’.
    Tear Down The Wall!!

  11. Selina Sweet
    November 23, 2023 at 12:30

    Please call the President and your Congress people every day denouncing Biden’s position as Netanyahu’s obedient shadow and demanding he institute an immediate ceasefire with not a penny, millions nor any form of weaponry given to Israel.

    • Patrick Henry
      November 23, 2023 at 14:09

      Yeah, that is sure to change things. We could also put on pink hats and march around DC on a Sunday. Or, I know, we can all sing Kum-ba-ya. That’s is sure to change the world.

      And the American Left wonders why they are on a 40 year losing streak.

      Flowers can beat guns. But, its not the flower that wins, but the willpower of the people holding the flowers. What the modern left proposes are fake little efforts involving no risk and no willpower, but only a weak,symbolic action. This way they get to feel like they’ve shown some symbolic opposition. But, what the powerful see is that the left is unwilling to take any risks. Thus, the 40 year losing streak. And no sign that the losing streak will end before the end of the world.

      Meanwhile, the inmates of an open-air prison, arguably the most powerless people on the planet, by being willing to actually resist, have ended Netanyahu’s political career (something 40 weeks of marches with pink hats couldn’t do), have upended the entire Trump-Biden Brilliant Plan for Israel, upended Biden’s plans for how World War would unfold, possibly ended the war in the Ukraine, changed the balance of power in the Middle East, and possibly begun the process by which they regain the homes their parents and grandparents had taken from them.

      Submission is not resistance.
      Submission is submission.

  12. mr bog
    November 23, 2023 at 12:15

    (A) Israel has total cover from the U.S. in exchange for doing U.S. dirty work in the middle east.
    (B) Israel has used the holocaust to bully people into silence. Nobody wants to be called an antisemite, not after Hitler.
    These two things have created a monster.

    But I compare this to Clinton’s war of aggression against Serbia, which was the most unprotested war in history. I went to three white-house protests and there were like 25 people there, mostly republicans. I recall the entire Left including Chomsky and the Chomsky ditto-heads known as “Z Magazine” had bought into the genocide thing. As it became debunked even in the kangaroo court over the following years, reporting went to zero. Nobody knows anything. That near complete acquiescence to power from left-to-right was far more disturbing than this which has refreshingly divided people at least a bit.

    Meanwhile the U.S. wages other such wars and we hear total silence. Where are these people over Yemen? Or Colombia? Where were they when Obama became the biggest terrorist and hawk on the planet? For those crimes against humanity we see all the people standing up for Palestinians suddenly completely silent Worse than silent, they vote for those atrocities.

    So fever pitch hypocrisy is alive and well.

  13. Chad Irons
    November 23, 2023 at 11:30

    What a explosive article this is! You all should be proud of the work you are doing to get the truth out! I have never seen such a elaborate propaganda campaign as this one to hide the true nature of the Zionist campaign to exterminate Palestinians.

  14. gcw919
    November 23, 2023 at 09:33

    It should be pretty clear by now that Israel’s focus is to destroy the majority of the infrastructure in Gaza so there is nothing to which the Palestinians can return. This propaganda about the al-Shifa hospital being a command center looks like something a 12 year old would concoct. The question is, where will the refugees in the south of Gaza go once Israel decides they have dropped enough bombs, and slaughtered enough people? Will 10,000 suffice, or maybe another 10,000 to satisfy their bloodlust? The world looks on in helpless incredulity as Israel, and the US, continue on their way to decimate a people, as something out of a Mediaeval siege.

  15. Valerie
    November 23, 2023 at 07:52

    The omissions; the lies; the horror.

    • Abu Lincoln
      November 23, 2023 at 13:38

      I still see no point is listening to a known liar.

      The only way not to lose in the process is to completely discount anything that the known liars say. And, if your are going to do that, why bother to even listen? So Israel talks, the American corporate media ‘reports it’, and I don’t bother to listen nor even care. This way, they can not fool me. Since I don’t listen, they must fail in their goal to fool me.

  16. michael888
    November 23, 2023 at 06:13

    “Hamas is a creature of Israel” — Yasser Arafat. Since its election in 2006 (not sure there have been other elections) Netanyahu has bragged (publicly as recently as 2018) about funding Hamas as Israel’s collaborators, snitches and police. More and more it seems that the “conspiracy theory” that Israel (and Genocide Joe) knew of the impending Hamas attack of October 7th, and allowed it (or even ordered it).

    Now Israel has free rein to slaughter as many Palestinians as possible. (In the US there seems a huge class divide with the wealthy and Elites in all fields supporting genocide– particularly our politicians, while virtually everyone else is against it?)

    • Valerie
      November 23, 2023 at 14:52

      Michael, i wonder if you (or anyone else) can explain for me. I keep seeing these references to “Hamas is funded by/a collaborator etc of Israel”, but i fail to see why they would turn on their sponsors – 7th October assault. Or is it a case of the Hamas attackers on that day were duped by their superiors and sent in unwittingly, for the reasons given why Israel did not react immediately. I have yet to read any opinions on this subject. And surely, as Palestinians,  they cannot be so ruthless as to initiate this genocide on their own people. Or am i so naïve, i cannot see the wood for the trees?
      It’s tantamount to killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. I’m confused.

    • CouldItBe
      November 23, 2023 at 18:41

      “(In the US there seems a huge class divide with the wealthy and Elites in all fields supporting genocide– particularly our politicians, while virtually everyone else is against it?)”

      That has always been the case in “The United States of America” from its inception and how “The United States of America” has been and continues to be facilitated, the role of “their populations (posessive case)” which you refer to as “virtually everyone else ” are deemed to be expendable food sources and human shields.

      The colonialists including “The United States of America of which the state called Israel is a component” have been at war – which is not restricted to things that go bang – since their inception,

    • Anon
      November 25, 2023 at 21:08

      Brihana Grey (sp?) interviewed Ralph Nader UTube
      Mr Nader breaks down the Hamas operation plainly yet impressively.
      This commenter considers the piece required watching.
      PROPS to Gareth for his report, & of course to CN for running it.

Comments are closed.