GAZA — A Gaza health ministry spokesman said hundreds were killed in a blast at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday (Oct 17) that Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other and that ignited protests in the West Bank and around the Middle East.
CLAIMS AND COUNTERCLAIMS
There were competing claims and denials from Israeli and Palestinian officials over who was responsible.
Abbas said that targeting the hospital was a “hideous war massacre,” adding that “Israel has crossed all red lines.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian militants for the explosion.
“The entire world should know: It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF,” he said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces. “Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children.”
Briefing reporters early on Wednesday, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari cast doubt on the Palestinian death count, asserted that there was no direct hit on the hospital, and said Israel had intelligence proving its claim that Gaza militants were responsible.
The IDF blamed Palestinian Islamic Jihad which, like Hamas, is viewed by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization.
“The IDF did not strike the hospital in Gaza,” Mr Hagari said in a video statement. “The hospital was hit as a result of a failed rocket launched by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.”
Another IDF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, told CNN Israel had intercepted conversations among militants showing “they understand that it was a rocket that misfired.”
He said the Israeli government would share its intelligence with Biden and would make the intercepts public.
Speaking earlier, Daoud Shehab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, denied his group was responsible.
“This is a lie and fabrication, it is completely incorrect. The occupation is trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians,” he told Reuters.
During the last Israeli-Hamas conflict in 2021, Israel said Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups fired about 4,360 rockets from Gaza of which around 680 fell short of Israel and into the Gaza Strip.
Clashes with Palestinian security forces broke out in a number of other cities in the West Bank, which is ruled by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, late on Tuesday, witnesses said.
After Hamas officials initially blamed Tuesday’s hospital blast on an Israeli air strike, Arab countries, Iran and Turkey swiftly condemned it. REUTERS