Who’s To Blame For Gaza Hospital Bombing? The 8 Key Points To Consider
Also, Egyptian president appears to threaten war with Israel over Palestinian refugees, and German chancellor forced to evacuate his plane amid air raid alert.
Updated Oct. 19 at 1:25 p.m.
The bombing of the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City has dramatically escalated tensions between Israel and the Arab world. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials quickly accused the other of causing the explosion, which was inevitably followed by a kind of “social media war” of supporters of each side making the case for who is responsible. Israel has blamed a failed rocket launched by Palestinian militants, while Palestinians say the explosion was part of what’s been an ongoing air campaign on civilian targets in Gaza.
Endless streams of information are circulating online, but here are 7 points to consider when weighing these conflicting claims and making your own assessment of the tragic bombing.
1. Analyzing the damage: There has been much preliminary investigation into the damage done to the hospital, but so far findings are inconclusive. One analysis done by Italian publication Il Giornale finds that the laser-point bombs typically used by Israel do not produce the type of damage seen at the hospital. Other Israeli bombs that have hit Gazan buildings are generally designed to make the lower infrastructure of the building implode, destroying the foundations and thereby making the structure collapse inwards. This does not match imagery of the hospital rubble. Other investigations have been conducted by journalists at the BBC, who spoke to several experts about the situation. Two experts support the possibility that the large explosion could have been caused by a smaller impact in the car-park which then triggered a fuel reaction from the vehicles. However, the BBC stresses that there is still insufficient evidence to make certain conclusions for any theory.
2. Geo-localisers: An organization working with OSINT(Open-source intelligence) used its geo-localization tools to determine where the hospital blast came from. GeoConfirmed posted their findings on twitter, stating that after analyzing footage from media network Al-Jazeera, which shows a rocket’s malfunction after being launched from within Gaza. The geo-locators look at the details of the rocket’s direction and fall to estimate a location of landing, which they conclude to be the hospital.
3. Audio of two Hamas militants: A video was released by the IDF showing audio of two Hamas militants discussing the possibility that the rocket was fired from a cemetery from behind the hospital. They claimed that the rocket “misfired and fell” on them, destroying the hospital. The video cannot be independently verified.
4. Israeli influencer’s deleted tweet: Just after the explosion was reported Tuesday night, Hananya Naftali, a pro-Israel influencer, tweeted that the Israeli air force struck a “terrorist base inside a hospital in Gaza.”
Pro-Israel social media influencer Hananya Naftali tweeted in celebration of the hospital bombing in Gaza.\n\nTweet now deleted.— Lowkey (@Lowkey) 1697569570
Pro-Israel social media influencer Hananya Naftali tweeted in celebration of the hospital bombing in Gaza.
Tweet now deleted. pic.twitter.com/G9oGNGg6tl
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) October 17, 2023
Following the tweet’s wide circulation on social media as proof that Israel is responsible for the hospital explosion, the influencer apologized for his “error” and claimed that he got his information from a Reuters report that “falsely” blamed Israel.
While Naftali’s tweet can certainly be a piece of the puzzle, and is used to back the pro-Palastinian claim that Israel is responsible, it is unclear what access the influencer has to direct information related to military operations.
5. Time stamp on Israeli video: Posted Tuesday night by the official state of Israel account on Twitter, a video was presented as evidence that the rocket came from Hamas. It showed outgoing rocket fire from militants, but the video was later deleted as people pointed out that the time stamp did not match with the time that the explosion took place. the tweet which has been edited for the video to be removed.
6. Israel’s prior warnings: The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which runs the hospital, said it had already been a target of Israel. The hospital administration said it had received warnings from the IDF to evacuate the hospital on Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the explosion on Tuesday. It also claimed that two Israeli projectiles hit the hospital on Saturday, damaging the fourth floor. An IDF spokesperson acknowledged that the hospital had been called in recent days, but as part of a wider evacuation effort to convince Gaza’s civilians to flee south, and was “not in any way a target.”
7. Death count: The number of victims is disputed by Israeli and Palestinian officials. Late Wednesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said that there were 471 deaths as a result of the explosion, while the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) says this number has been “deliberately inflated,” according to the BBC. The IDF has not provided its own assessment of the death count, but the truthfulness and accuracy on such a question speaks to the question of overall credibility.
8. Past record: Both Hamas and the IDF have long been known for providing “their truth” following violent incidents in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The most recent high-profile example was the May 2022 IDF raid in the occupied-West Bank,where Palestinian-American Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead. Both Palestinian authorities and IDF officials immediately blamed each other. Several months later, following an independent investigation, the IDF was forced to admit that it was ultimately responsible.
It remains to be seen if there will ever be a similar independent probe on the question of responsibility for the hospital explosion. Yet as noted by French political commentator Pierre Haski, a former Middle East correspondent, it’s unlikely that the final narrative can ever work in Israel’s favor.
“Israel is trapped by its blockade of Gaza. There are no independent sources on the ground, not one foreign journalist, not one outside observer, to check the facts — whether it was an Israeli bombardment, as the Palestinians accuse, or a rocket fired by Hamas' ally Islamic Jihad that caused the explosion, as Israel claims.
This lack of an independent source ultimately backfires on Israel: the hospital strike comes after several days of relentless bombardment in urban areas. Even if Israel succeeds in proving that it did not cause the explosion, the damage has been done, and calls to stop their war will continue to multiply.”
Aid could begin to enter Gaza on Friday after Biden visit
Aid convoys were lined up Thursday near Egypt’s Rafah Crossing, following a deal struck during Joe Biden’s visit to Israel to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
After hours of talks with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his war cabinet, Biden said Israel had agreed to allow the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border to deliveries of desperately needed food, water and medical supplies on condition that the humanitarian assistance was not diverted by Hamas for its own use. “The people of Gaza need food, water, medicine and shelter,” Biden said.
Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has agreed to reopen the Rafah crossing to allow 20 trucks with humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Biden said roads near the border would need repairs after they were damaged in Israeli strikes, but that aid could begin reaching the territory by Friday.
While the agreement to allow aid through the Rafah crossing was a breakthrough, the UN and other aid agencies have said the relief will still not be enough. Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people is in danger of death by dehydration, hunger, disease and injuries from bombardment.
Humanitarian organizations have stocks of life-saving supplies on the Egyptian side of the border, waiting for the Rafah crossing to open. The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, told the UN security council that the organization sought to bring aid deliveries to Gaza back to 100 trucks a day, the level before the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“Security worldwide is anchored in Israel”
“Security worldwide is anchored in Israel”: Tel Aviv-based Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom quotes Joe Biden on its Thursday front page, a day after the U.S. president’s half-day visit in a show of solidarity with Israel.
I am in Israel, a nation in grief.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 19, 2023
I grieve with you and stand with you against the evil that is terrorism.
Today, and always.
Rishi Sunak has arrived in Israel for talks with its leaders, and will later travel to other countries in the region for further discussions. That tour will include a visit to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem and “expressed his personal condolences for the horrific loss of life in Israel as a result of Hamas’ terrorism” and also “agreed on the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support to ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are also suffering.”
Meanwhile, the UK's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is traveling to meet leaders in Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to "help prevent the spread of conflict across the region.” Cleverly will discuss the opening of the Rafah crossing and securing the release of hostages taken by Hamas, the foreign ministry said.
Egyptian President threatens war with Israel over Palestinian Refugees
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi accused Israel of planning to displace Palestinians to the Sinai, which he warned was “dragging Egypt into a war against Israel.” The escalation of rhetoric, during a joint-press conference Wednesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, came after the deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital, reports Israel-based broadcaster i24NEWS.
The rising carnage, which has set off protests in Egypt and around the region, significantly raises the stakes between the two countries who have maintained relatively peaceful relations since the 1978 Camp David Accords.
El-Sisi reiterated an accusation made several times by himself and King Abdullah II of Jordan — that Israel is forcing Palestinians out of their land to solve “the Palestinian cause at the expense of neighboring countries,” according to French Daily Le Monde.
The Egyptian president mentioned that “a similar movement from the West Bank to Jordan” could follow. Both Arab leaders have canceled their meeting planned for Wednesday with U.S. President Joe Biden.
The President rejected Israel’s tepid suggestion that Palestinian refugees could be kept in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai desert during the remainder of the war, and instead argued that Israel should instead host the fleeing Gazans in the Israeli-controlled Negev Desert. The Sinai would become “a base for operations against Israel and in this case, Egypt will be labeled as a base for terrorists,” contended the president.
El-Sisi further blamed Israel for the lack of humanitarian aid being delivered to Gaza, claiming that the Rafah border between his country and Gaza was “not closed” by Egypt, and that operations were paralyzed by “Israeli bombings.” For several days now, “hundreds” trucks with humanitarian aid have been piled up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, but have been unable to cross into Gaza, according to Le Monde.
Jordan King Abdullah II. bin al-Hussein in Berlin
Biden’s Amman visit canceled - Can Jordanian King Abdullah mediate crisis?
On Monday it was Giorgia Meloni. Tuesday it was Olaf Scholz. Wednesday should have been Joe Biden’s turn. But King Abdullah II of Jordan canceled Biden’s invitation to Amman for a summit of regional leaders after the deadly hospital bombing in Gaza.
The most dangerous Middle East conflict in a generation suddenly got exponentially more dangerous, and deadly with hundreds believed killed by the bombing of the al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City. With outrage over the hospital bombing across the region, and the two sides trading accusations over responsibility, the Jordanian monarch could not hold a summit with Biden, who had come to the Middle East primarily to show his support to Israel.
Abdullah had spent the early part of the week in Europe, trying to find a way at least to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But he also reminded the world of why the Middle East is so complicated. In a joint news conference Tuesday in Berlin with German Chancellor Scholz, the King declared that the displacement of Palestinians to Jordan and Egypt is a "red line," and said there would be no refugees in Jordan and no refugees in Egypt.
“That is a red line, because I think that is a plan by certain of the usual suspects to try and create de facto issues on the ground. No refugees in Jordan, no refugees in Egypt,” Abudullah said. “This is a situation of humanitarian dimension that has to be dealt inside Gaza and the West Bank and not to try and push the Palestinian challenge in their future onto other people's shoulders.”
It is a reminder of the history of the region. During the war of 1948, approximately 725,000 Palestinians fled to Jordan and Lebanon where they constituted 50% and 10% of the respective populations. Today, more than two million registered Palestine refugees live in Jordan.
The connection with Palestinians and longstanding cordial relations with Israel give Jordan an opening few countries have to try to mediate between the warring sides. The parade of diplomats who have made a stop in Jordan since Hamas’s attack is a clear sign of that potential role. On Tuesday, Scholz thanked King Abdullah II for "playing a stabilizing and mediating role for so many years."
The 61-year-old monarch, who studied international diplomacy at Georgetown University, hadn't been expecting to take over for his father. But King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for 47 years, surprised all by naming him as heir apparent just two weeks before his death in 1999. In the two-plus decades since, King Abdullah has earned a reputation in world capitals as a reliable player in the complicated Middle East.
On Monday, Abdullah met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome. He called for the opening of aid channels to allow humanitarian deliveries to the Palestinian enclave, which has been sealed off ahead of an Israeli ground offensive. The king urged the international community to condemn the targeting of civilians by Israel, adding that international law must be followed by every country. He and Meloni also discussed the political horizon for a two-state solution, with Jordan and Italy “maintaining cooperation” in working for peace in Gaza.
Italy has also positioned itself as a possible mediator, compared to some other European capitals, Rome is not looked at suspiciously by Israeli authorities. “At the moment, we don’t have any negative indications about Italians in Israel,” said Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz forced to evacuate plane amid rocket attacks in Tel Aviv
#Raketenalarm in Tel Aviv. Die Regierungsmaschine wird umgehend evakuiert. @Bundeskanzler wird in einen Schutzraum gebracht. Wir legen uns vor dem Flugzeug auf den Boden. @robinalexander_ @frautoroxel pic.twitter.com/OTWV55KUoA— Sara Sievert (@sara__si) October 17, 2023
"Raus, Raus, Raus!" (Out, out out!) German chancellor Olaf Scholz was forced to evacuate his plane and lay on the ground due to rockets shot towards Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The Chancellor and the passengers had taken their seats on the plane when the alarm rang. The German delegation was preparing to depart for Cairo.
UN says concerned by risk of waterborne diseases in Gaza
Palestinian girls carry water bottles in Rafah
The UN says it is concerned by the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases in Gaza given the “collapse of water and sanitation services.”
The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said in a statement that parts of southern Gaza received water for three hours on Tuesday, adding that only 14 percent of the population in the Palestinian enclave benefited from it.
Iran Supreme leader: Israel should be tried for crimes against Palestinians
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has called for Israeli officials to be held accountable for their actions against Palestinians, and called for the Israeli bombing of Gaza to cease. “The Zionist regime’s officials should be tried for their crimes against Palestinians in Gaza,” he said. “No one can confront Muslims and the resistance forces if the Zionist regime’s crimes against Palestinians continue … the bombardment of Gaza must stop immediately,” Khamenei added.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned Hezbollah and Iran not to intervene in the Israel-Hamas conflict in a joint press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II bin al Hussein on Tuesday in Berlin.
"Together with our allies, we as the German government are doing everything in our power to ensure that this conflict does not escalate further."
Japan to give $10m aid to Gaza civilians
Japan will provide $10 million in emergency assistance for civilians in Gaza, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said in a press conference on Tuesday. The assistance will come "through international organizations," Kamikawa added.
“Japan will work with humanitarian groups to ensure that innocent civilians and Palestinian refugees receive food, water, medical care, and support they need," she said.
Kamikawa told reporters in a news conference that she also informed her Israeli counterpart that Tokyo hopes that the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories will calm down as soon as possible.
Spain-Israel spat over leftist minister's support of Palestinians
📢 Comunicado de prensa de la Embajada de Israel en España: pic.twitter.com/Def4NfC4wH— Israel en España 🇮🇱 (@IsraelinSpain) October 16, 2023
Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs responded Tuesday to an ongoing accusation from the Israeli embassy that senior government officials are siding with Palestine. The Minister, José Manuel Albares, stated that the Spanish government “does not accept unfounded accusations” about the “lies spread in the statement by the Israeli embassy.”
Albares added that all political members had the right to free speech in “a fully democratic country such as Spain”.
Israeli officials were angered on Sunday, when Ione Belarra, the Spanish Minister for Social Rights and leader of the political party Podemos, attended a pro-Palestine rally along with other leftist political figures. Belarra has been vocal in his social media about his support for Palestine, and his political party made its stance even clearer when member Pablo Fernández wore a palestinian tracksuit to a press conference on Monday.
The Israeli embassy of Spain reacted to Podemos’ sympathies by releasing a public statement condemning the government for “aligning with ISIS-like terrorism”. The statement also urged Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to “unequivocally denounce” his coalition allies, whose positions are “not only absolutely immoral, but also endanger Jewish communities in Spain.”
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