Hospital blast: Fingers pointed at Hamas, Islamists


Compiled by Elaine Krige

Evidence gathered in the last 24 hours by independent analysts and military experts indicates that Hamas, and not Israel, was responsible for firing a rocket that hit a hospital in Gaza.

RNews earlier reported that the attack on the Al Ahli Arab hospital on Tuesday afternoon apparently caused the death of between 300 and 500 people and Israel and Hamas immediately blamed each other for the attack.

Independent analysts told The Washington Post that information gathered at the scene of the explosion did not indicate that the devastation was caused by any of the bombs or missiles that Israel usually uses. Moreover, the damage does not appear to be as great as Gaza’s health department, which is controlled by Hamas, initially disclosed. Rather than 471 deaths, it appears that between 110 and 300 people perished in the blast.

Officials from the US Department of Defense have now also collected evidence indicating that the explosion at the hospital in Gaza was caused by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

“The US government’s analysis shows that Israel was not responsible for an explosion that killed hundreds of civilians yesterday at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the Gaza Strip,” said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council. “Our analysis is based on available intelligence, missile activity and overhead images and video footage of the event.”

She says intelligence indicates that some of the Palestinian militants believe the explosion was probably caused by an erroneous launch of a rocket by the PIJ, a group with ties to Hamas.

Photos from the scene also show that the missile hit the parking lot in front of the hospital and that no significant damage was done to the hospital’s structures.

“All evidence at the moment points to the rocket coming from Hamas or the PIJ,” Blake Spendley, an independent intelligence analyst, told The Wall Street Journal.

During a live press conference on the matter, Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli army, said their information shows that the PIJ fired ten rockets at 18:59 on Tuesday. One of the rockets, Hagari says, fell to the ground earlier than it should have and it hit the hospital’s parking lot. “Israel did not fire any ammunition near the hospital at that time.”

He also says Hamas inflated the death toll. He further referred to a photo which was posted on social media, showing burned-out cars in the hospital parking lot. He says from the photo it is clear that the damage was caused by rocket oil that caught fire after the rocket hit the ground.

“There is no evidence of a crater caused by an Israeli missile.”

Jaco Kleynhans, head of international liaison at Solidarity, also says everything points to Hamas falsely accusing Israel. “Israel is extremely careful not to turn international sentiment against them. Hamas, on the other hand, wants to turn public opinion against Israel. At this stage, it really seems like there is enough evidence to say that Israel was not responsible for the bombing of the hospital.”