The U.S. has collected “high confidence” intelligence that a Palestine-based radical Islamic militant group was behind the explosion at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, according to multiple media reports.
Communications intercepts and other intelligence sources suggested that Israel was not responsible for the blast, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. defense officials, reinforcing Israel’s denial that it was behind the deadly explosion. U.S. officials said on the record they believe Israel is not responsible but did not attribute the strike to a particular group, media reports stated.
“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,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told the WSJ. (RELATED: Biden Announces $100 Million In Aid To Gaza Days After Hamas Stole Humanitarian Supplies)
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team—not you,” he later told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the WSJ reported.
When reached for comment, a DOD spokesperson echoed Watson’s statement.
“As you’ve heard our colleagues at NSC say, 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. We do not have any further information to provide at this time,” a DOD spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) purposely attacked the hospital and killed 471 noncombatants, according to the WSJ. Media outlets could not independently verify the ministry’s claims.
Israeli officials pinned the strike on Islamic Jihad, releasing what appears to be intercepted communications between two Hamas operatives discussing the strike early Wednesday.
The U.S. is still reviewing intelligence, Watson told the WSJ.
Although no conclusive evidence was presented indicating Israel carried out the bombing, Hamas noted Israel’s previous strikes in the area and an order to evacuate the hospital, according to the WSJ. The bombing triggered mass anti-Israel demonstrations across the Middle East and threats against U.S. troops for what is seen as U.S. complicity in the incident.
Regional Arab leaders canceled a planned summit with Biden due to the incident.
Islamic Jihad denied Israel’s accusation, according to the WSJ. Aerial photos of the blast site do not show a crater, which would be inconsistent with a JDAM strike from the IDF, and nearby structures do not show the kind of damage that would occur with a massive explosion capable of killing some 500 people, some open-source intelligence analysts say.
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