US President Joe Biden accused Hamas of committing a “war crime” for operating what the US and Israel have claimed is a command node under the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.
Biden said he discussed the dangerous situation at the hospital, Gaza’s largest, during his meeting with China's leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday.
“You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened,” Biden told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.
Some context: Israeli forces launched a raid early Wednesday morning on Al-Shifa, after accusing Hamas of operating from tunnels beneath the vast complex – a claim denied by the militant group and hospital officials.
CNN cannot verify either side's claims.
Israel said its troops found "military equipment used by Hamas," the military said in a statement but offered no evidence yet of a vast tunnel network it claimed was used by the militant group.
Israel said it will present more evidence to support their claims of a Hamas command center, an adviser to the prime minister told CNN Wednesday.
Conditions at Al-Shifa, which has run out of fuel and is no longer considered operational, have deteriorated rapidly in recent days amid intense fighting, with doctors warning of a “catastrophic” situation for patients, staff and displaced people still inside.
Wednesday’s raid has also sparked widespread international criticism.
Biden noted that the US has called on Israel to be “incredibly careful” as it targets Hamas in the area, but suggested that action was justified.
“We discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful. You have a circumstance where you know there is a fair number of Hamas terrorists. Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again, like they did before."
The president also noted the savagery of Hamas' October 7 attacks in Israel. "And so, the idea that they're going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic," he added.
Israeli forces, he suggested, are “bringing in incubators” and “other means to help the people in the hospital,” adding that there have been efforts to get doctors, nurses, and other personnel out of harm’s way.
Evidence: In a follow up exchange with CNN, Biden told MJ Lee, “Yes,” he was absolutely confident based on intelligence he’d seen that Hamas was operating a command center under the Al-Shifa hospital, but declined to share details on the evidence.
“No, I can’t tell you—I won’t tell you,” he told CNN.