By Jonathan Landay and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. spy businesses assess that Islamist group Hamas and one other Palestinian group combating Israel used Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital to command forces and maintain some hostages however largely evacuated the complicated days earlier than Israeli troops entered it, a U.S. official mentioned on Tuesday, citing declassified U.S. intelligence.

The complicated was utilized by each Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to command forces combating in opposition to Israel, the U.S. official mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity.

U.S. intelligence businesses haven’t disclosed the proof on which they primarily based their evaluation. The official mentioned the U.S. had independently confirmed the knowledge.

Israel has additionally mentioned Al Shifa, which it had occupied earlier within the struggle in Gaza, had been utilized by Hamas. Israeli troops entered the hospital in November.

The concentrating on of the hospital had stoked world alarm over the destiny of civilians and sufferers who have been inside.

The World Well being Group final month described the emergency division within the enclave’s primary well being facility as resembling a “massacre.”

The American authorities believed that Hamas used the hospital complicated and websites beneath it to hold out command and management actions, retailer some weapons and maintain a couple of hostages, the U.S. official mentioned.

U.S. intelligence businesses obtained data that Hamas fighters had largely evacuated the complicated days earlier than Israel’s operation and destroyed paperwork and electronics as they left, in accordance with the American official.

The U.S. intelligence evaluation was reported first by the New York Occasions. A categorised model of the evaluation was despatched to lawmakers within the U.S. Congress.

Israeli tanks superior on Gaza Metropolis’s Al Shifa hospital, with some sufferers nonetheless inside, in mid-November. Israel mentioned the hospital sat atop tunnels housing headquarters for Hamas fighters utilizing sufferers as shields, which Hamas denied.

Israeli evaluation’s was not less than partially appropriate that some hostages have been held at or below the complicated however these hostages appeared to have been moved as Hamas evacuated, the New York Occasions reported.

In November, White Home nationwide safety spokesman John Kirby mentioned Hamas militants have been sheltering themselves within the hospital and utilizing the power as a protect in opposition to army motion, putting sufferers and medical workers in danger.

“We have now our personal intelligence that convinces us that Hamas was utilizing Al Shifa as a command and management node, and almost definitely in addition to a storage facility,” Kirby mentioned in November. Washington had on the time not declassified the sources of the U.S. intelligence.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel killed 1,200, in accordance with Israeli tallies. Israel’s subsequent assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza has killed over 22,000, in accordance with Gaza well being officers.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; extra reporting and writing by Kanishka Singh; Enhancing by Mary Milliken and Michael Perry)

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