Israel said its troops had found a command center, weapons and combat gear belonging to Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza's biggest hospital on Wednesday, in a campaign that stoked global alarm over the fate of civilians inside.

Shifa hospital had become the chief target of a Gaza City incursion by Israeli forces, who said the "beating heart" of the Hamas fighters' operations was headquartered in tunnels beneath it. Hamas denied the accusation and on Wednesday dismissed the Israeli statements as "lies and cheap propaganda."

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the troops were still searching, having entered the hospital early on Wednesday after days of clashes around it.