The Gaza Strip, Palestine – At least 500 Palestinians have been killed after an explosion devastated a Christian hospital on Tuesday. Despite mounting evidence that points directly to Israeli involvement, the regime continues to shift responsibility from a “massacre” that some believe is the worst in 75 years.
The suspected airstrike occurred in the courtyard of the Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital, an Anglican Christian medical center that had been sheltering hundreds of civilians in war-torn Gaza. The strike comes amid a relentless 11-day indiscriminate bombing campaign carried out by Israeli warplanes and at a time when gas, power, food, water, and egress from the partition has been completely shut off.
Horrifying photos and video from the scene show bodies of numerous victims strewn about the Hospital grounds, many of them women and children. A video of the initial moments of the attack was later verified by the New York Times. Israel was directly accused of committing a “massacre” by the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, Mai Alkaila, and has forced several arab leaders to condemn Israel and cancel diplomatic talks with U.S. President Joe Biden scheduled for this week.
“I have followed up with deep sorrow the Israeli bombing of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday evening, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Palestinians in Gaza,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a statement. “I condemn in the strongest terms this premeditated attack, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and relevant international and humanitarian resolutions.”
Israel initially denied involvement in the attack on Al-Ahli Hospital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that “barbaric terrorists” in Gaza were the real culprits, which came about as a result of a misfired Palestinian rocket. According to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) had “passed by” the hospital at the time of the strike, and one may have landed in the facility’s parking lot.
Posts from Israel’s official social media accounts purportedly showing photo “evidence” of a PIJ rocket attack shortly followed. The official Israel X/Twitter account even posted an unverified video, which was met with almost instant criticism. The footage was quickly debunked when users pointed out that it had been edited and timestamped a half hour prior to the confirmed detonation time. The PIJ countered the accusation and denied having anything to do with the massacre, stating it did not have “any activity in or around Gaza City” at the time. The post made by the Israeli account was later edited to remove the bunk video.
“Pointing an accusation at Islamic Jihad will not absolve the Zionist enemy of its responsibility for the massacre,” read a series of statements by the PIJ through Al-Jazeera. “The accusations promoted by the Zionist enemy are false and the resistance does not use public facilities as military centers.”
Many, however, have called out Israel for attempting to absolve themselves of responsibility. According to research conducted by the Turkish Center for Combating Disinformation, the photos released by Israelis on social media were confirmed to be taken sometime in 2022, not 2023.
“The claim that Hamas, not Israel, carried out the attack’ on the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza’s al-Zaytoun neighborhood is false,” said the Communications Directorate’s Center for Combating Disinformation (CDCCD) in a statement. “It was established that the images bearing the logo of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have in fact been in circulation since July 8, 2022. Please do not give credence to false claims.”
Israeli claims of innocence continued to fall short, however, when internet skeptics began looking deeper into the so-called evidence being presented. One video that was widely circulated on social media compared the initial moments of the Al-Ahli attack with that of an American JDAM air strike. Many believed the distinct whistling sound made by the advanced munition was an exact match with the sound of the bomb dropped on Al-Ahli.
The severity of the damage done to the hospital—as well as the casualties incurred—appeared to align more with the JDAM theory than the misfired rocket theory. Palestinian rockets, while numerous, often fail to inflict the same level of destruction as those done by Western munitions if they do make an impact. “When the footage of the hospital bombing is examined, it becomes obvious that the ammunition that had the effect of destroying the area was not the type that Hamas had previously employed,” said the CDCCD in a statement.
With no access to such munitions by Palestinian fighters—or even a way to deploy them—the blame would fall onto Israel by default.
It was also revealed that the Israeli military had a history of attacking the hospital. In an article published by the Anglican Communion News Service—a media wing of the organization that runs Al-Ahli—the strike on Tuesday was actually the second time it had been hit by the IDF. On Saturday the 14th, the Diagnostic Cancer Treatment Centre had been struck by an Israeli rocket, damaging two of the upper floors. The resulting explosion inflicted severe damage to an area that housed the hospital’s ultrasound and mammography wards.
“The Diagnostic Centre is the Crown Jewel of Ahli Hospital, providing cancer diagnosis as a prelude to various treatment options both at Ahli and in other facilities,” the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum, said. “Next month, we were due to open a new chemotherapy centre there in partnership with Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives – a principal reason for our visit to the hospital last week.”
The series of attacks on Al-Ahli comes on the heels of a recent IDF declaration advising Gazans to evacuate local hospitals, with some believing they would be marked as future targets for Israeli warplanes. Al-Ahli was one of 20 hospitals in North Gaza facing such mandatory evacuation orders, but with nowhere else to go, many chose to remain. “The Israeli army demanded the immediate evacuation of hospitals, alleging that they were being used as shelters,” read another statement by the CDCCD.
Approximately 115 attacks had been launched on healthcare facilities in Gaza, and the majority of its hospitals were not fully functioning thanks to a lack of basic amenities and supplies due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. The World Health Organisation said in a statement that the attack on Al-Ahli was “unprecedented in its scale.”
While the final death toll was still being calculated at the time of press, the reputational damage to the Israeli regime has already been done. The attack has since triggered worldwide condemnation and a series of fiery protests, including demonstrations in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Germany, Canada, and others. Anti-Israel riots in the West Bank city of Ramallah were reported as Palestinians called for the removal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his perceived inaction on the issue. In Amman, police fired tear gas at crowds gathering outside the Israeli embassy.
The attack appears to have spoiled a “complex” diplomatic mission hatched by U.S. President Joe Biden, who planned emergency talks with several Middle Eastern figures this week. His goal was to provide “calm” to the region while also galvanizing support for Israel and its ongoing war efforts. The plan seems to have suffered a setback, however, as the Kingdom of Jordan canceled an arranged summit amid worsening public outcries.
Israel’s attempts at shifting blame and skirting responsibility in support of debunked theories have become commonplace as the latest war on Gaza rages into its second week. Previously, Israel was accused of flooding Western media with “atrocity propaganda” in the hopes of garnering support for its indiscriminate bombing of predominantly civilian targets in Gaza. Many of their initial claims were quickly debunked, however, forcing some journalists to retract their statements and irrevocably damage the credibility of the regime.
The global consequences of the suspected Israeli attack on Al-Ahli Hospital are ongoing, and the Justice Report will provide updates as they become available.
Have a story? Please forward any tips or leads to the editors at [email protected]