The attack at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday has sparked a blame game between Israel and Palestine, with each side accusing the other of being responsible for the horrifying tragedy, which has left nearly 500 people dead.
The explosion, which came hours before US President Joe Biden’s scheduled visit to Israel, has also caused an international furore and protests. US diplomatic efforts to drum up support for Israel have also been derailed, with Jordan announcing that Mr Biden’s meeting in Amman on Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stands cancelled.
‘Murdered Their Own Children’
Soon after the explosion ripped through the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital – which was one of 20 in northern Gaza facing evacuation after the Israeli military ordered civilians to move south last week – Hamas blamed Israel and said the tragedy was the result of an Israeli airstrike.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) then began posting a series of videos claiming that a rocket aimed at the country had misfired at exactly the same time – 18:59 – as the hospital was hit.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that intelligence indicated that Islamic Jihad, a group allied with Hamas, was responsible for the “failed rocket launch which hit the hospital”.
“An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit. Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza,” Mr Netanyahu posted on X, formerly Twitter.
In another post, he said, “The entire world should know: It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children.”
This was countered strongly by Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, who called Mr Netanyahu a “liar” and said that the Israeli military hit the hospital thinking that there was a Hamas base nearby. He also claimed that Mr Netanyahu’s spokesperson had tweeted as much, and then deleted the tweet, and that the Israelis were now changing their story.
“He (Mr Netanyahu) is a liar. His digital spokesperson tweeted that Israel did the hit thinking that there was a base for Hamas around this hospital, and then he deleted that tweet. We have a copy of that tweet… Now they changed the story to try to blame the Palestinians,” Mr Mansour was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
He also pointed out that the Israeli Army had called for the evacuation of hospitals, where many civilians in Gaza had been sheltering after their houses had been reduced to rubble in Israeli airstrikes.
“The Israeli spokesperson of the Army made a statement in which he said evacuate the hospitals… Their intention is to evacuate or hospitals will be hit and they are responsible for that crime and they cannot fabricate stories to deal with it,” Mr Mansour said.
At least 3,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began on October 7 and Israel has been claiming that this was a result of Hamas using civilians as “human shields”. Several posts by the handle of the Israel Defense Forces on X blamed Islamic Jihad for the explosion and alleged that a rocket launched by the group against Israel had misfired and hit the hospital.
One video claimed to show footage of Tuesday’s misfired rocket and then depicted several other instances of rockets misfiring, failing and landing within Gaza.
This is the tragic result of firing rockets from densely populated neighborhoods. pic.twitter.com/7iAxwLUQzV
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 18, 2023
Another video showed the hospital and its surroundings before and after the attack. The IDF claimed that Israeli rockets cause craters at the impact site, and none were seen there.
“A failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization hit the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City. IAF footage from the area around the hospital before and after the failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization,” the post by IDF read.
A failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization hit the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City.
IAF footage from the area around the hospital before and after the failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization: pic.twitter.com/AvCAkQULAf
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 18, 2023
The video claims that the hospital building caught fire after the rocket hit the parking lot.
Israel has also released a graphic, taken from IDF radar footage, claiming to show the path of a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. The graphic shows that the hospital lies directly in the firing zone.
— Embassy of Israel to the USA | #IsraelUSA75 (@IsraelinUSA) October 17, 2023
Experts told String Reveals that Israel uses precision-guided munition in its aerial attacks on the Gaza strip. The laser-guided or GPS-guided bombs can take out specific targets and prevent the loss of innocent lives.
In a statement, Islamic Jihad said, “The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine.”
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey have also accused Israel of bombing the hospital.