Hamas slammed what it said were ‘outrageous lies’ after Israel’s Defense Forces published evidence they claim proves last night’s Gaza hospital explosion that killed hundreds of people was caused by a misfiring rocket from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The terrorist group said the Israeli military evidence was fake and that ‘its outrageous lies do not deceive anyone’ in comments given this afternoon, hours after a spokesman for Islamic Jihad accused the IDF of ‘trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians.’
The IDF earlier shared an audio clip procured by Israeli military intelligence in which two alleged Hamas terrorists can be heard discussing the explosion and confirming the rocket came from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – an independent jihadist group. ‘They are saying (the rocket) belongs to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It’s from us?’ one alleged Hamas member asks in the clip provided by Israel’s military intelligence. ‘It looks like it,’ the other responded. ‘It misfired and fell on them… God bless – couldn’t it have found another place to explode?’ The alleged recording came after Israeli officials released a video of the moment a rocket purportedly streaking towards Israel from Gaza appears to suffer a problem and suddenly changes course before flaming out. In the darkness, it is not clear whether the rocket broke apart or simply lost its trajectory.
But moments later, a pair of explosions erupt in the city below – the result of what Israel claims was the rocket falling back to Earth and striking the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. ‘This is the tragic result of firing rockets from densely populated neighborhoods,’ the IDF said. And finally, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari showed a series of infrared images, satellite photos and intelligence documents he said proved the damage caused at the hospital could not possibly have come from an Israeli strike. He explained the images showed there was no structural damage to buildings around the Al-Ahli hospital, no craters in the adjacent car park, and no debris consistent with an air strike, implying a direct hit from an Israeli missile would have caused far more destruction. ‘The walls stay intact. There are no craters in the parking lot. These are the characteristics that show it was not an aerial munition that hit the parking lot,’ he concluded.
He also pointed out images of what he claimed was shrapnel on the roof of nearby buildings, suggesting the rocket fell apart in the air and sprayed its detritus across a larger area. RUSI aerial warfare analyst Justin Bronk agreed with Hagari’s statements, writing: ‘No crater or obvious shrapnel pattern consistent with IAF JDAM/Mk80 series bombs visible… Still not conclusive but if this is the extent of the damage I’d say an airstrike looks less likely than a rocket failure causing an explosion and fuel fire.’ Hagari said Hamas knew the hospital blast was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket but launched a ‘global media campaign’ to blame Israel. The evidence was published amid a torrent of fury from Hamas, the Arab world and Israel’s foes over the explosion, with Iran declaring last night that Israel’s ‘time is up’ and Tehran-backed terror group Hezbollah calling for a ‘day of rage’ after Gaza’s Health Ministry said hundreds of people died in the blast.
‘They understood with absolute certainty that it was a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad that damaged the hospital,’ Hagari said. ‘Unlike Hamas, the IDF launched an immediate examination’ of the attack, he said, going onto explain there was no IDF fire ‘from land, sea or air that hit the hospital’. ‘I can confirm that an analysis of the IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli Al Mahdi Hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit. Intelligence from a few sources that we have in our hands indicates that the Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza. I repeat, this is the responsibility of Islamic Jihad that killed innocents in the hospital in Gaza.’
He concluded that some 450 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen short and landed inside the strip in the last 11 days. These claims could not be independently verified. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN that Israel ‘categorically’ do not intentionally strike any sensitive facilities, including hospitals. ‘We did not strike that, and that the intelligence that we have suggests that it was a failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad,’ he said. ‘I want to add, categorically, that we do not intentionally strike any sensitive facilities, and definitely not hospitals,’ he said.
The incident has sparked a venomous blame game, with a spokesman for Islamic Jihad accusing the IDF of ‘trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians.’ Hellish video taken from the hospital, which was sheltering around 6,000 Palestinians and is funded by the Anglican Church, shows fire engulfing the building and the dozens of bodies strewn over the ground, many of them young children. Ambulances and private cars rushed some 350 casualties from the al-Ahli blast to Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, already overwhelmed with wounded from other strikes, said its director, Mohammed Abu Selmia. ‘We are squeezing five beds into a single tiny room. We need equipment, we need medicine, we need beds, we need everything,’ Mr Abu Selmia said, warning that the fuel supply for the hospital’s generators will run out on Wednesday. ‘I think Gaza’s medical sector will collapse within hours.’
In a press conference at al-Shifa, doctors stood surrounded dead children who had been brought from the stricken hospital, holding some of their faces to the cameras to show the horror that had befallen them. The head of the World Health Organization today issued a stark warning, saying the situation in Gaza is ‘spiralling out of control’ while calling for the ‘violence on all sides to stop’ so that Israel’s siege can be lifted and medical supplies let into the enclave. ‘Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. ‘We need immediate access to start delivering life-saving supplies.’ The horrific strike has raised already heightened fears that the Hamas-Israel conflict will engulf the Middle East, with Iran’s foreign minister declaring that the ‘time is over’ for Israel. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist group based in Lebanon, called for ‘a day of unprecedented anger’ against Israel, while Libya’s foreign ministry accused the Jewish state of ‘war crimes and genocide’.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, later arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night after the hospital bombing – a remarkable show of unity between two former sworn enemies. While there, Amir Abdollahian issued a stark warning to Israel, with the foreign minister tweeting: After the terrible crime of the Zionist regime in the bombing and massacre of more than a thousand innocent women and children in the hospital, the time has come for the global unity of humanity against this fake regime more hated than ISIS and its killing machine. Time is OVER.’ The incident has also complicated US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region today, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II cancelling their Arab summit meeting with Biden. Within hours of the incident, the White House and Jordan’s government announced the meeting was called off. Now Biden’s only stop is Tel Aviv, where he’s expected to push for allowing critical humanitarian aid into Gaza during meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden echoed the Israeli view on the hospital blast after arriving in Tel Aviv, saying it appeared to have been caused ‘by the other team, not you,’ but that there were ‘a lot of people out there’ who weren’t sure. British intelligence is working rapidly to independently establish who was behind the blast in a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians, Rishi Sunak has said. The Prime Minister urged MPs not to ‘rush to judgment’ on Wednesday as Israel and Hamas issued rival claims about the atrocity feared to have killed at least 500 at al Ahli. But Mr Sunak told the House of Commons that he was unable to reveal the UK verdict after holding talks with the National Security Adviser and the Joint Intelligence Committee. ‘We should not rush to judgment before we have all the facts on this awful situation,’ he told Prime Minister’s Questions. ‘Every member will know that the words we say here have an impact beyond the House. Our intelligence services have been rapidly analysing the evidence to independently establish the facts. We are not in a position at this point to say more than that.’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to offer condolences over a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital and voice support for Palestinians’ ‘legitimate aspirations,’ the State Department said. Blinken, who is on a regional crisis tour, spoke by telephone with Abbas late Tuesday after the strike on the Ahli Arab Hospital, hours after meeting him in person in Amman. The Secretary of State called Abbas ‘to express profound condolences for the civilian lives lost in the explosion’ at the hospital, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. Blinken ‘expressed continuing US support for the Palestinian people, stressing that Hamas terrorists do not represent Palestinians or their legitimate aspirations for self-determination and equal measures of dignity, freedom, security and justice,’ Miller said.
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