This story has been updated
By Douglas LeBlanc
A missile launched from the Gaza Strip and aimed at Israel instead landed in the parking lot of Al Ahli Arab Hospital on October 17, killing between 100 and 300 people, The New York Times reported on October 20. Earlier estimates by Hamas of 500 to 800 deaths were inaccurate.
Some journalists and religious leaders took the word of Hamas officials and blamed Israel for the catastrophe, assuming that the missile was dropped from a fighter jet. But Israel Defense Forces provided multiple videos and audio of a conversation among terrorists showing that the missile originated with Islamic Jihad, one of the anti-Israel terrorist groups surrounding the nation.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority, cancelled his participation in an October 18 meeting with President Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
During his trip to Israel, President Biden said American intelligence reinforced what Israeli intelligence indicated.
Israeli spokesmen consistently say the IDF does not target civilians, and an Israeli adviser reinforced that message late October 17.
“All indications are that this was not Israeli-ordered,” said Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, in a live interview on the BBC. “It was, rather, a Hamas rocket that fell short.”
Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad have provided evidence that Israel had anything to do with the missile.
In a video conversation during Virginia Theological Seminary’s bicentennial ceremonies on October 13, Archbishop Hosam Naoum of Jerusalem said that Gaza only has about 1,000 Christians, and that most of them were taking refuge at the hospital and at two nearby churches, in the hope that it was safer there than most other parts of Gaza City.