Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Nov. 21, seemed to say that Israel created the underground “bunkers” beneath Shifa Hospital, which Israeli officials have long said are used by Hamas for meetings, to shelter from Israeli attacks, store weapons, etc.
Amanpour used the term “bunkers” in her question, but the context makes clear that Barak then seemed to confuse “bunker” for basement. Here’s the video excerpt:
Here’s the transcript:
AMANPOUR: Can I just start by asking you … what is your view of whether your government, your military, has done a good enough job of proving their claim that there was a major command center and bunker under al-Shifa.
BARAK: It’s already known for many years that they have in the bunkers, that originally was built by Israeli constructors underneath Shifa, was used as a command post of the Hamas. And a kind of a junction of several tunnels, part of the system…
AMANPOUR: When you say it was built by Israeli engineers, did you misspeak?
BARAK: No, you know decades ago we were running the place. It was decades, many decades ago, four decades ago that we helped them to build these bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the hospital within the very limited size of this compound.
It should be clear that Hamas tunnels, like the one below, would be of no utility to a hospital, and are clearly not what Barak is referring to:
So what is Barak talking about? Here are the facts he’s half-remembering: When Israel ran Gaza it engaged the well-known architects Gershon Tzpur and Benjamin Idelson to lead the development of a new Shifa Hospital, designed on modern lines, and looking very much like the Israeli hospitals the architects had earlier helped design, such as Beilinson, Ichilov, and Soroka.
And as part of that construction a basement was built under the hospital:
Obviously, this is a typical hospital basement, not a “bunker,” and while Hamas has for years been using the basement for its own purposes, when Israel speaks of Hamas tunnels and the “Gaza Metro,” they’re not talking about an ordinary basement.
This reality hasn’t stopped internet trolls from falsely claiming that Barak admitted that Israel, not Hamas, created the tunnels under Shifa Hospital.