During a press conference on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari emphatically refuted Hamas’ claims that the explosion at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of numerous individuals, was caused by an Israeli airstrike.
Late on Tuesday, the IDF declared that, following a thorough examination of available data, it determined the incident was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket intended for Israel that malfunctioned and landed within Gaza City.
Hagari stated on Wednesday that there was no evidence of a direct impact on the hospital building itself, no structural damage to neighboring structures, and no bomb crater, which would have been indicative of damage caused by an aerial bombing from the Israel Air Force.
“The IDF spokesman stated that, according to our intelligence, Hamas reviewed reports and recognized that the incident was caused by a misfire from Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s rocket. Subsequently, Hamas initiated a global media campaign, inflating casualty numbers. They were fully aware that Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched the rocket responsible.”
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza alleged that hundreds of individuals were killed in what they claimed to be an Israeli airstrike. Photos from Al-Ahli Hospital depicted fires engulfing the hospital’s corridors, shattered glass, and scattered body parts. The ministry asserted that at least 500 people lost their lives.
Hagari remarked, “It is impossible to ascertain the facts as rapidly as Hamas purportedly did, and this should have raised initial concerns.” Furthermore, Israel possesses audio recordings of telephone conversations among Hamas members in which they implicate Islamic Jihad in the explosion, Hagari added.
During the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and its allies in Gaza, approximately 450 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen short, landing inside the Gaza Strip. This war began a week and a half ago following terrorist attacks launched by Hamas against Israeli border communities, resulting in the death of more than 1,300 Israelis.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) international spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, stated that they do not intentionally target sensitive facilities, including hospitals, and are very conscious of the presence of civilians.
The recent deaths at Al-Ahli Hospital have caused outrage in the Arab world, where accusations against Israel have gained widespread acceptance. Western leaders have also expressed deep concern over the situation.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday for an urgent visit amid the ongoing conflict and expressed his deep outrage and sadness about the recent explosion. He stated that he has instructed his national security team to continue gathering information to determine the exact circumstances of the incident. The United States firmly stands for the protection of civilian lives during conflicts and mourns the loss of patients, medical personnel, and other innocent individuals affected by this tragedy.
While meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, Biden conveyed that, based on the available information, it seemed that the explosion was caused by a party other than the Israeli government. He acknowledged that there remained uncertainty regarding the exact cause of the blast, and there were differing opinions on the matter.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad disputed the Israeli military spokesman’s statement that the explosion resulted from a failed rocket launch and claimed that the angle of impact and the intensity of the fire indicated an aerial attack.
Islamic Jihad has pointed out that hospitals in the Gaza Strip received evacuation notices before they were struck by bombings, yet there was no intervention from the international community. They also criticized the contradictory explanations provided by Israel, with the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Ben-Dor suggesting that the hospital housed weapons while the Israeli army attributed the incident to a failed rocket launch.
Islamic Jihad further argued that Israel has a history of disclaiming responsibility for its actions, citing the case of journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh, who was killed while covering an Israeli military operation in Jenin on May 11, 2022. Initially, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied any involvement in her killing, but later admitted that she was likely killed by Israeli fire. This pattern of disclaiming responsibility is seen as recurring in the current situation as well.