Gaza War: Day 12

IDF provides evidence hospital blast was a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari shares drone footage and a recording proving Israel was not behind the attack on the hospital

DAWOOD NEMER/AFP via Getty Images

People inspect the damage at Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023, following a blast which ripped through it a day earlier killing hundreds.

The Israeli Defense Forces shared drone footage and a recording on Wednesday saying it was proof that an explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday night was caused by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket that had misfired and landed within the Gaza Strip, next to the hospital.

According to unverified Hamas reports, hundreds of people were killed in the blast, sparking protests across the region and prompting Jordan to cancel a scheduled meeting with President Joe Biden, who was slated to visit the Hashemite Kingdom after his stop in Israel on Wednesday.

“Islamic Jihad was responsible for the strike on the hospital,” IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

Hagari recounted how a barrage of rockets were fired into Israel’s territory around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, including towards Tel Aviv. Around 10 of those rockets were fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hagari said, and around 7 p.m. there were reports of an explosion at the hospital.

“Hamas checked what happened, they understood it was a rocket shot by Islamic Jihad and decided to launch a global media campaign to hide what really happened,” said Hagari, criticizing international media outlets that rushed to lay the blame on Israel, some of which have yet to change their headlines.

Hagari shared aerial footage of the hospital, noting that the damage was in the parking lot, not on the hospital itself, and suggesting that the high number of casualties was inflated by Hamas.

“There is no structural damage to the hospital,” Hagari said, highlighting that the damage now visible in the hospital’s parking lot was caused by a rocket and not more powerful ammunition used by Israeli fighter jets. An Israeli air strike, he emphasized, would have caused far greater damage to surrounding buildings and left a crater.

Hagari said immediately after the attack, the military launched an investigation into the strike. He noted that at that time of the explosion at the hospital, Israel was not carrying out any strikes in Gaza. He added that Israeli radar systems tracked the rockets fired by terrorists and a “trajectory analysis confirmed that the rockets were fired in close proximity to the hospital.”

In addition, Hagari said, there were two independent videos showing the failed launch and its fall in the compound, as well as a recording of communication between Hamas terrorists. 

Hagari shared the recording with journalists, in which two Hamas terrorists can be heard recognizing that the rocket had hit inside Gaza, next to the hospital. Hagari translated the recording in real-time, relaying that the two men recorded were discussing how the shrapnel from the strike did not belong to Israeli munitions.

The IDF also said that since the beginning of the war on Oct. 7, approximately 450 of the more than 6,000 rockets launched toward Israel had fallen short, landing inside the Gaza Strip causing casualties there.

Data compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Wednesday that the death toll in Gaza had reached some 3,000 people, with 853 killed in the past 24 hours.

OCHA said that the Rafa border crossing into Egypt remained closed on Wednesday and that the “complete siege of Gaza continues.”

“The Rafah Crossing has remained closed, preventing the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medicines awaiting on the Egyptian side,” OCHA said.

The Israeli army said it was continuing to call on residents in the northern part of the Strip and in Gaza City to evacuate towards the area of Al-Mawasi, south of Wadi Gaza, and that international humanitarian aid was available in that area.

Over the last few days, Israeli military jets have continued to strike dozens of terror targets in the Gaza Strip, killing additional senior Hamas terrorists on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Among the dead was Ayman Nofal, who was the commander of Hamas’ Central Brigade in the Gaza Strip, and former head of Hamas military intelligence; Muhammad Awdallah, commander of the anti-tank missile system of the Gaza City Brigade of the Hamas terrorist organization; and Akram Hijazi, who was from the Hamas naval forces and an arms and terror funds dealer. 

In addition, Israel said its strikes had destroyed operational command centers, rocket staging grounds, anti-tank missile and rocket launch sites, as well as military infrastructure located on top of Hamas terror tunnels.

Beyond Gaza, clashes continued along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Militant Shiite group Hezbollah took responsibility for anti-tank missile fire toward IDF soldiers in the area of Shtula on Tuesday.

“In response to the shooting incidents toward Israel from Lebanon over the last few days, a short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck an observation post and military infrastructure belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon,” the army said in a statement.

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