A day after a horrific explosion reportedly killed hundreds at a Gaza hospital, intelligence obtained by the United States indicates Israel wasn’t responsible.
President JOE BIDEN was the first to hint at the internal findings, stating during his trip to Israel that “the other team” — meaning Palestinian militants — were to blame. Moments later, National Security Council spokesperson ADRIENNE WATSON provided more detail: “While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.”
There was some speculation that perhaps Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, was defending the American ally, especially after Israel Defense Forces said the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was at fault. But statements from U.S. officials, lawmakers and experts ever since seem to back up the administration’s conclusion.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee has received and reviewed intelligence related to the attack on al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. Based on this information, we feel confident that the explosion was the result of a failed rocket launch by militant terrorists and not the result of an Israeli airstrike,” Sens. MARK WARNER (D-Va.) and MARCO RUBIO (R-Fla.), the panel’s leaders, said in a statement.
Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza and launched a brutal attack on Israel that started the war, still claims Israel hit the hospital. It continues to release what it claims is proof that the Israeli military purposefully killed civilians with its airpower.
But even publicly available information seems to refute Hamas’ claims.
MARC GARLASCO, an expert on civilian harm reduction, weighed in that it doesn’t appear the explosion was the result of an aerial bombing. “Whatever hit the hospital in #Gaza it wasn’t an airstrike. Even the smallest JDAM leaves a 3m crater. Widespread surface damage and total lack of cratering inconsistent with an airstrike,” he wrote on X, the platform once known as Twitter.
And as The Wall Street Journal reports, “photos and videos taken at the site of the blast show that the hospital compound’s buildings haven’t sustained major damage.”
“At the moment, the preponderance of evidence does point to it being a Hamas or [Islamic Jihad] rocket hitting the area,” BLAKE SPENDLEY, an open-source intelligence analyst, told WSJ, noting that what he’s seen indicates a death toll closer to 50, not 500 as Hamas asserted.
Hamas, of course, has an interest in painting Israel as brutes who don’t care if they kill civilians. It furthers their cause and erodes the goodwill Israel has following Hamas’ attack that killed more than 1,400 people.
However, the Biden administration is cautioning Israel to weigh the safety of civilians as they continue to retaliate against Hamas. That campaign has already claimed over 3,000 lives, with that total set to spike once Israeli Prime Minister BENJAMIN NETANYAHU launches an anticipated ground invasion of Gaza.
“Justice must be done. But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it,” Biden said in Israel. “After 9/11 we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”