The Christian Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip was hit by an explosion Tuesday that left scores dead, the Gaza Health Ministry says, according to multiple reports.
While Hamas officials claimed nearly 500 were killed, death tolls have not yet been independently verified. The Gaza Health Ministry, which is Hamas-run, is blaming the explosion on an Israeli air strike, the Independent reported. (RELATED: ‘Israel Should Stop’: Democrats At Odds Over Israel Policy Following Hamas Terror Attacks)
An IDF spokesman disputed allegations it was an Israeli strike. “From the analysis of the operational systems of the IDF, an enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed in the vicinity of the hospital, when it was hit,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari tweeted in Hebrew. “According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] organization is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital.”
מניתוח המערכות המבצעיות של צה״ל בוצע מטח רקטי של האויב לעבר ישראל, שעבר בסביבת בית החולים, בשעת הפגיעה בו.
על פי מידע מודיעיני, ממספר מקורות הקיים בידינו, ארגון הגא״פ אחראי לירי הכושל שפגע בבית החולים.
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) October 17, 2023
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has declared a three-day period of mourning for the dead, Wafa reported.
Following an analysis by the IDF’s operational systems, a barrage of rockets was launched toward Israel, which passed in the vicinity of the hospital, when it was hit.
According to intelligence information from a number of sources we have, Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is… pic.twitter.com/QZsanPaFEc
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 17, 2023
The explosion took place at the same time that a massive barrage of rockets were reportedly coming from the Gaza Strip, raising the possibility that a missile launched by Hamas or another faction within Gaza fell short and hit the hospital, according to The Jerusalem Post. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) subsequently launched its own investigation into the incident.
An “initial investigation” suggested it was not an IDF bomb that caused the explosion but “a failed Hamas rocket launch,” Israeli news outlet i24 News reported.
🔴BREAKING: Initial investigation by IDF shows explosion in hospital in Gaza was caused by a failed Hamas rocket launch – report
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) October 17, 2023
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the uncertainty surrounding the death toll from the blast.