The White House said Tuesday that it has evidence that Hamas is using Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a military base.
"I can confirm for you that we have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One. "Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad—PIJ—members operate a command and control node from Al Shifa in Gaza City. They have stored weapons there, and they are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility."
Kirby added the White House does not want Israel to airstrike the hospital or a firefight to break out in the facility.
"Now, to be clear, we do not support striking a hospital from the air," he said, "and we do not want to see a firefight in a hospital where innocent people, helpless people, sick people are simply trying to get the medical care that they deserve, not to be caught in a crossfire. Hospitals and patients must be protected."
Kirby noted that the intelligence "points out how challenging the military operation is because Hamas has deeply embedded itself within the civilian population" and that Israel has "an added burden, given the way that Hamas operates." He also said the White House has been clear that "Hamas actions do not lessen Israel's responsibilities to protect civilians in Gaza."
Kirby's comments come a day after President Joe Biden called for "less intrusive action" on the part of the Israelis toward the hospital and said that Al Shifa "must be protected."
That same day, the Israel Defense Forces released a video that laid out what it said was evidence that Hamas used another hospital, Al Rantisi, as a base. The video showed a cache of guns and explosives inside the hospital.
Israel has long maintained that Hamas uses Al Shifa Hospital as a base. Last month, the Israeli military held a press conference in which it presented diagrams, videos, and audio recordings to back up its assertion.