Gaza hospital blast: Here’s what we know

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The al-Ahali Hospital in Gaza City was struck Tuesday night, and hundreds were reportedly killed in the blast. Hamas initially claimed the hospital was attacked in an Israeli strike; Israel countered after an investigation that it was hit by an errant missile launched by terrorists in Gaza itself. 

Online video making the rounds on social media suggests the al-Ahali Hospital in Gaza City was not directly hit by a rocket on Tuesday, but instead the missile appears to have struck a nearby parking lot, leading to many conflicting claims of who was responsible, where the missile struck and how many people died.

Who’s responsible?

Hamas was targeting Tel Aviv with rocket fire on Tuesday, and has been targeting central Israel multiple times each day.

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Palestinians check the place of the explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023

Palestinians check the place of the explosion at al-Ahli hospital, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says an Israeli airstrike caused the explosion that killed hundreds at al-Ahli, but the Israeli military says it was a misfired Palestinian rocket. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

Shortly after the blast, senior Hamas officials told Fox, “After the barbaric attack, it’s too early to talk about this.”

After an investigation, Israel said on Tuesday the rocket was fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a State Department designated foreign terrorist organization backed by Iran.

“An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the al-Ahli [Baptist] hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit,” IDF officials said. “Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.”

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A boy tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023.

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 18: A boy tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Over 500 people were killed on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told. According to the Palestinian authorities, Israeli army is responsible for the deadly bombing. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

While Israel rebutted the claims immediately, President Biden, who was in Israel on Wednesday, stated intelligence from the Pentagon supports Israel’s assertion that the blast originated from rocket fire in Gaza.

Biden reiterated his belief that Israel was not to blame later on Wednesday. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson also reaffirmed the U.S. position.

“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,” she wrote.

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Palestinians carry belongings leave al-Ahli hospital

Palestinians carry belongings leave al-Ahli hospital, which they were taking it as a shelter, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. The Hamas-run Health Ministry says an Israeli airstrike caused the explosion that killed hundreds at al-Ahli hospital, but the Israeli military says it was a misfired Palestinian rocket. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)

Where the rockets fell

The failed rocket launch was initially reported to have been a direct hit on the hospital.

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A view of damage after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023.

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 18: A view of damage after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Over 500 people were killed on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told. According to the Palestinian authorities, Israeli army is responsible for the deadly bombing. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Israeli media showed footage from their own cameras that appears to show at least one rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza falling short and landing on a hospital in their own territory.

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Shared by Keshet 12 News, the footage clearly shows multiple rockets launching toward Israel on Tuesday. Moments later, a blast is seen in Gaza midway along the rockets’ trajectory.

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Images and video making the rounds on social media tell a different story from the one Hamas initially told.

The images depict a parking lot with several damaged cars, and in the middle, a divot from where an object exploded.

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A girl tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023.

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 18: A girl tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Over 500 people were killed on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told. According to the Palestinian authorities, Israeli army is responsible for the deadly bombing. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

When compared to images of typical Israeli missile strikes that show craters after the explosion, the parking lot had a small indentation, showing a different type of missile may have been responsible for the blast.

While the rocket appears to have struck a parking lot, the Hamas-run hospital treating wounded Palestinians and sheltering many others was certainly damaged, but not destroyed.

Casualty numbers

Another conflict point centers around the number of deaths from the blast.

A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023.

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 18: A view of the surroundings of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital after it was hit in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Over 500 people were killed on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told. According to the Palestinian authorities, Israeli army is responsible for the deadly bombing. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The blast in the parking lot was enough to damage the hospital, but according to sources at the scene, it was not enough to destroy the facility, calling the reported number of deaths into question.

The Gaza Health Ministry initially reported that at least 500 people were killed at al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, and Hamas said it was the result of an Israel airstrike.

At this time, the number of people killed in the blast is unconfirmed, though Reuters quoted the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry saying there were 471 people dead as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Biden met with Israeli officials throughout Wednesday, pledging further support for the country and warning Iran and Hezbollah not to intervene.

Anders Hagstrom of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

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