Hamas on Tuesday denounced Israeli army claims that a discarded baby bottle, makeshift toilet, and bullet-scarred motorbike were evidence the militants held hostages inside a Gaza hospital.
On Monday evening, army spokesman Daniel Hagari said troops “found signs that indicate that Hamas held hostages” in the basement of Al-Rantisi children’s hospital in Gaza City.
AFP was not able to independently confirm the allegation, and the Hamas health ministry said the objects merely showed the basement was used by displaced residents fleeing fighting.
In a statement, the ministry said the video was “poor staging” with “not a single piece of evidence” backing the Israeli army claims.
“This basement appeared in the original blueprints of the hospital as a storage area and displaced people found refuge there,” it added.
Some 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas fighters who surged through the heavily militarized Gaza border on October 7 and killed 1,200 people — mostly civilians — according to Israel.
Hagari did not say how many hostages the army believes were held at the hospital in the north of the besieged Gaza Strip.
However, in a video recorded on site, he walked through various scenes alleging they “indicate that Hamas held hostages here”.
Hagari said a bullet-marked motorbike used to transport hostages was in the basement, alongside a chair with rope near the legs and discarded women’s clothing.
An improvised toilet was also cited as evidence hostages were held downstairs.
“You don’t need to build something improvisedly in a hospital, in the basement, unless you want to hold someone in the basement and you don’t want anyone to see him,” Hagari said.
“I also want you to look at this room,” he said. “People are putting curtains with nothing behind, just wall. No reason to put here a curtain unless you want to film hostages.”
Since war broke out, the grounds of many Gaza hospitals have been filled with thousands of displaced civilians desperate for protection from Israel’s near-relentless bombardment.
Hagari said a list posted on the wall was a rota for Hamas militants guarding the hostages.
However, when the camera zooms in, it shows a tally of dates since October 7, but with no names written.
A weapons cache — which Hagari described as “gear for a major fight” — was also found at the hospital, according to the Israeli army.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the army confirmed the death of woman soldier Noa Marciano, who they said had been “abducted by a terror organisation”.
Hamas earlier said she had been killed in an Israeli bombardment but the army did not say how she died.