Newly released information shows that a purported bombing of a hospital in Gaza that was said to have killed more than 500 people likely did not occur.
The explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was almost immediately attributed to Israel, with some pointing out that Hamas fighters would not have rockets strong enough to cause major structural damage to the facility.
The New York Times said it had verified photos and videos showing “bloodied and battered bodies, flames, grieving witnesses and the blankets, backpacks and mattresses of the dead and wounded littering the area around them.”
As the Times also reported, “A spokeswoman for the Gazan health ministry put the toll at 500 or more dead, which the ministry later changed to ‘hundreds.’ No figure could be confirmed independently, but images from the hospital, which is run by the Anglican Church, and witness accounts made clear that it was high.”
Following the explosion, numerous statements were issued condemning Israel for violations of international law.
However, images released the morning after the incident show that only the parking lot was hit and the hospital remains intact.
IDF drone footage of the hospital from after the attack shows damage that is a lot more consistent with a failed rocket than a JDAM.
Majority of the damage is concentrated on the car park, with no visible crater.
— Oliver Alexander (@OAlexanderDK) October 18, 2023
As both daylight and new evidence emerged, blame for the attack shifted to Hamas.
Daylight. The Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza still stands. Local footage shows all buildings intact. There are no rescue workers pulling bodies from rubble. There are no bodies. There is no rubble.
A tragedy happened. Innocents died. But it wasn't as reported yesterday. pic.twitter.com/5EEoLV4q5X
— Arieh Kovler (@ariehkovler) October 18, 2023
Video footage released by multiple sources shows the likely cause of the explosion was a rocket launched by Hamas, which failed mid-flight and — either intact or in pieces — struck the parking lot.
Full recording from @ajmubasher feed.
You can see outgoing rocket fire some distance away. The rocket is intercepted in the air, and breaks apart into shrapnel.
After this 2 explosions are seen: one smaller one, perhaps on the rocket launcher, and a big one on the hospital. pic.twitter.com/upR4Dnrvsq
— Yousuf (@yousuf_tw) October 17, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released footage from the area around the hospital before and after the failed rocket launch confirming the damage was limited to the parking area.
IDF also released audio from intercepted communications between purported Hamas operatives as they realize it was their own organization’s rocket that caused the blast.
Islamic Jihad struck a Hospital in Gaza—the IDF did not.
Listen to the terrorists as they realize this themselves: pic.twitter.com/u7WyU8Rxwz
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 18, 2023
In updated reporting, the Times said “the death toll could not be independently verified,” adding that neither Israel’s nor Hamas’ claims about who was responsible have been verified.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, issued a statement saying, “While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.”