A Sober Assessment
Israel was not responsible for the deadly explosion at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, according to US intelligence officials, who said they conducted a thorough investigation into the Oct. 17 blast that caused up to 300 casualties amid ongoing fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas, the Washington Post reported.
The hospital explosion prompted protests throughout the Middle East and international condemnation, with some reports faulting Israel for the destruction.
Israel has denied involvement in the blast and blamed a Palestinian militant group for the incident.
The exact death toll remains unknown, but the number is estimated to be between 100 and 300 people, while the Hamas-run health ministry put the figure higher
In their assessment, intelligence officials said this week that they have determined with “high confidence” that Israel was not responsible for the hospital explosion, after analyzing various videos and using geolocation techniques.
They traced the explosion to a rocket launched within Gaza that experienced a mechanical failure midflight and crashed into the hospital.
This conclusion was based on factors such as the nature of the damage caused by the explosion, which was consistent with a rocket rather than Israeli munitions. The trajectory of the rocket was tracked based on videos from four locations. The rocket’s motor became unstable during its flight, leading to its failure, a change in direction, and the eventual explosion at the hospital.
Despite efforts to find evidence tying the rocket to Israel, analysts have not discovered any, the newspaper wrote, adding that no Palestinian group had come forward with evidence as would be expected to show Israel was to blame.
However, the analysts couldn’t definitively identify the group responsible for launching the rocket due to insufficient information.
The limited intelligence available to investigators included intercepted communications and language patterns of the speakers. These suggested that the individuals involved were “affiliated” with Hamas and that the rocket was probably launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
However, due to a lack of more conclusive information, this assessment remained at “low confidence.”
Meanwhile, Israeli forces entered northern Gaza early Thursday morning in a “relatively large” incursion described as “preparing the ground” for a long-anticipated fullscale invasion, Sky News reported. Citing Israeli Army Radio, forces went in with tanks on an intelligence-gathering effort while also striking Hamas targets, before withdrawing hours later.
The Israeli Defense Forces said they had carried out over 250 airstrikes on Gaza in the last day, the BBC added.