Israel and Hamas Blame Each Other For Hospital Attack

( – At approximately 7 pm local time on the evening of October 17th, an explosion occurred at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, damaging the building and parking lot. How many people were killed was not immediately clear, but shortly thereafter Palestinian authorities claimed 500 were dead with some reporting the hospital itself had been destroyed, blaming the Israeli military.

That claim is being contested by Israeli authorities and independent experts who are suggesting the rocket came from within Gaza, a weapon deployed by the Islamic Jihad, an independent terrorist organization affiliated with but not under the direct control of Hamas.

Islamic Jihad has dismissed the claim as Israeli lies. This is not entirely outlandish, as the UN and WHO have documented 136 Israeli attacks on Palestinian medical facilities since the fighting began on October 7th. The situation demonstrates the difficulty of determining fact from fiction during a hot war, a phenomenon known to military and history buffs as the fog of war.

Israeli military authorities said they were not shelling the area in question at the time of the attacks and claimed to have intercepted communications which indicated Islamic Jihad had fired multiple rockets at that time. They had also tracked a rocket attack that originated near the hospital, suggesting that the one that landed near the hospital was potentially a misfire.

The Associated Press (AP) shared a video from the region where survivors of the attack explain how they were fleeing fighting in the area, expecting the hospital to be a safe zone. The video showed a damaged building in the background and burned-out cars in the parking lot.

U.S. authorities are actively negotiating with Israel to allow the delivery of medical supplies, food, and water to civilians desperate for a respite from the violence.

President Joe Biden has traveled to Israel to attempt to negotiate a ceasefire.

The Israeli military estimated that 450 rockets had been fired from Gaza since the hostilities began weeks ago. Islamic Jihad claimed Israel is attempting to “evade responsibility” for the attack which they characterized as a “brutal massacre.” The attack would be the worst single death toll in Gaza since the hostilities began on the Palestinian side. The death toll is incredibly difficult to confirm while the fighting continues in the region.

Islamic Jihad pointed out that the hospital had been a past target of the Israelis and there was an existing evacuation order. They also claimed that the scale of the damage, as well as the trajectory of the weapon, indicates it came from Israel.

Three thousand civilians were sheltering in the hospital at the time, according to statements from Dr. Mohammed Al-Naqa who works at the facility. He further claimed that there were many dead children and infants.

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