Earlier this week, hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed in an airstrike on a Gaza City hospital. Within minutes of the blast, Hamas and its mouthpieces blamed the horrifying incident on Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF). Mainstream news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN, immediately fueled this claim, publishing pieces with titles like “Israel blast kills 500 at Gaza Hospital.”
Within hours of the blast, demonstrators across the U.S. and the Middle East gathered in disgust of the blast. Protestors in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Tunisia violently tried to overtake both Israeli and American diplomatic sites and burn down synagogues.
Within half a day, evidence surrounding the hospital bombing became publicly available. According to both audio and video footage of the airstrike, the bomb that struck Gaza City was in fact not launched by the IDF at all. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) misfired a rocket intended to target population centers in Israel, resulting in the strike.
In a video widely circulated on social media and verified by the Wall Street Journal, a misfired rocket launched from Israel fails to make it across the border. Other photos and footage captured at the site of the blast today also showed that the hospital did not sustain the destruction claimed by Hamas. In images published by the open-source intelligence tracker OSINTdefender, the courtyard and parking lot at the Al-ahil Arab Baptist Hospital in Northern Gaza appeared to have been impacted by the rocket, which resulted in a “roughly 1×1 meter, 30cm deep” crater. It is unclear how more than 500 civilian deaths could have been sustained by this misfired rocket, considering the hospital’s main structures appear to remain intact. Any civilian loss of life is a tragedy and healthcare workers should never feel threatened even in times of war.
In further evidence of the strike, the IDF released an audio file and transcript of a reported conversation between two Hamas militants involving the hospital blast. The clip, posted on Twitter by the IDF, is captioned “Islamic Jihad struck a Hospital in Gaza- the IDF did not. Listen to the terrorists as they realize this themselves.” During the time of the strike, many injured Palestinians were inside the hospital, in addition to those seeking refuge in a structure that should be considered by all humans to be a safe haven from war.
“Is this from us?” asks one operative. “It looks like it,” a second operative replies. The two cohorts are then heard recognizing that the shrapnel of the missile “are local pieces, and not Israeli shrapnel” from rockets fired from the “cemetery behind the hospital.”
Hamas, the PIJ, and other militant groups have a history of misfiring rockets into Israel. In fact, the Israeli government has noted that roughly 450 other rockets fired from within the Gaza Strip had fallen short of Israel since the outbreak of war on October 7. Last summer, the IDF released video evidence indicating that PIJ rocket misfires killed 12 children in Gaza. During this flare-up of violence, Israel said that roughly 1,100 rockets were fired toward Israel by militants in Gaza and that approximately 20 percent of them fell short.
The Double Standard of Rocket Barrages
Some U.S. representatives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. They are publicly condemning Israel for continuing to attack Gaza and calling for a cessation of the IDF’s barrages. However, what these calls do not take into consideration is the fact that Hamas and the PIJ are relentlessly continuing to launch rockets, missiles, and projectiles toward Israel each day. The IDF has an obligation to respond to these attacks, as the opposition’s efforts all intend to target civilian centers in Israel.
After the hospital was struck at night and Hamas pointed the finger toward Israel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib condemned the IDF on X, claiming that Israel’s airstrike killed 500 civilians. Now that evidence indicates that the PIJ themselves were behind the bombing that likely did not inflict as many casualties, the sitting Representative should publish a similar note condemning the true culprits of the misfire.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.