Netanyahu: Barbaric terrorists, not IDF, caused explosion

Israel says Islamic Jihad rocket misfire caused blast near Gaza hospital

After Hamas, Arab states blame Israel, IDF says analysis shows errant rocket fired by Gazan terror group hit Al-Ahli hospital’s parking lot; videos appear to back Israel’s position

Bodies of Palestinians killed by an explosion near the Ahli Arab hospital are gathered in the front yard of the al-Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023. Israel said the explosion was caused by a rocket misfire by Palestinian terrorists, denying Hamas claims of an Israeli airstrike. (AP/Abed Khaled)
Bodies of Palestinians killed by an explosion near the Ahli Arab hospital are gathered in the front yard of the al-Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023. Israel said the explosion was caused by a rocket misfire by Palestinian terrorists, denying Hamas claims of an Israeli airstrike. (AP/Abed Khaled)

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday night said it was not behind a blast in the area of a hospital in the Gaza Strip that according to Hamas health authorities led to hundreds of deaths, and that instead a misfired rocket launched by Gaza terrorists caused the explosion.

The blast was initially claimed to have occurred at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital itself, but footage from Wednesday morning showed it appeared to have happened at the hospital’s parking lot, with none of the surrounding buildings sustaining significant damage.

Palestinians and much of the Arab world blamed Israel, saying it had struck the medical facility and that hundreds had been killed. Jerusalem was swiftly condemned by Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza initially said at least 500 people were killed, AP reported, a figure that was later amended to between 200 and 300, as reported by AFP.

Terror group Hamas called the blast “a war crime,” and the World Health Organization also issued a rebuke.

After initially saying it was looking into the matter, the IDF denied involvement, saying it had not been operating in the area at the time of the blast.

In a brief video circulated in English Tuesday night, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, “An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit.”

“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our possession indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch that hit the hospital in Gaza,” he added. This was before the footage emerged showing the blast happened at the parking lot and not at the hospital itself.

The Israeli military said about 450 of the thousands of rockets fired routinely by Gaza-based terror organizations at Israel have fallen short inside Gaza since the beginning of the war on October 7, “endangering and harming the lives of Gazan residents.”

Several videos appear to show the moment the rocket fell short and exploded inside the Palestinian territory on Tuesday.

One video, taken from Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara, appeared to match footage taken by Al Jazeera, which also showed a rocket misfire land inside Gaza.

Another video, published by Palestinian media outlets, showed the blast near the Ahli Arab Hospital.

The Al Jazeera footage was geolocated by experts on X to the hospital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement in which he said: “So the whole world knows: The barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the Gaza hospital, not the IDF.

“Those who cruelly murdered our children murder their children as well.”

President Isaac Herzog called accusations that Israel had struck the hospital “a blood libel.”

“An Islamic Jihad missile has killed many Palestinians at a Gazan hospital — a place where lives should be saved,” Herzog tweeted.

Palestinians rally in solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 17, 2023 (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

“Shame on the media who swallow the lies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad — broadcasting a 21st-century blood libel around the globe. Shame on the vile terrorists in Gaza who willfully spill the blood of the innocent,” he wrote.

Both before and after Israel denied involvement, Arab and Muslim countries accused Israel of carrying out an attack on the hospital. They did not amend those statements.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning after what he called the “hospital massacre.”

Late Tuesday, Jordan said a summit between US President Joe Biden and King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Abbas in Amman on Wednesday was canceled. The White House later confirmed the cancelation.

A White House official said in a statement that the decision to scrap the Amman summit was made after Biden consulted with Abdullah “and in light of the days of mourning announced” by Abbas following the hospital blast.

Biden sent Abdullah “his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the White House official said, being careful not to place blame on a particular party.

“Biden looks forward to consulting in person with these leaders soon, and agreed to remain regularly and directly engaged with each of them over the coming days,” the White House official added.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets throughout the West Bank to protest the hospital explosion. In Ramallah, videos show protesters chanting, “The people want the fall of the president,” in protest against Abbas’s perceived inaction in the face of the Gaza war.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the hospital blast “the latest example devoid of the most basic human values.”

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Western leaders to “stop this tragedy immediately, adding that “Arab mechanisms will document these war crimes and the criminals will not get away with their actions.”

Egypt’s foreign ministry said Cairo considered the “deliberate bombing of civilians to be a serious violation of international, humanitarian law and of the most basic values of humanity.” It called on Israel “to immediately stop its policies of collective punishment against the people in the Gaza Strip.”

Abdullah said he considered the incident a “heinous war crime that cannot be tolerated,” saying “Israel must immediately stop its brutal aggression against Gaza.”

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry blasted “Israeli criminal practices” and the United Arab Emirates’ presidential adviser Anwar Gargash lamented the “Israeli targeting of Baptist Hospital” while Bahrain used the opportunity to call for an “urgent ceasefire in Gaza.”

And Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement calls for a “day of rage” to condemn the hospital blast, blaming Israel for what it called a “massacre.”

Hospitals and their grounds have been seen as safe havens for Gazans made homeless or displaced by the bombing, as they have been relatively spared from strikes.

The IDF says it does not target hospitals.

Israel has accused Islamic Jihad before of causing the deaths of Palestinians with rockets that fall short inside Gaza.

Israel is 11 days into a war with Hamas following the terror group’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,300 people and seizing at least 199 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Most Popular
read more: