• Investigation reveals rocket fired from Israeli town of Nahal Oz struck ill-fated hospital
• NPR, BBC investigations also reach similar conclusions

WASHINGTON: The New York Times, which reviewed evidence around the Oct 17 explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, has rejected the Israeli assertion that a rocket fired by a Palestinian group caused the deaths of more than 400 people, mostly children.

But experts were also unable to confirm the counterclaim that an Israeli airstrike had indeed caused the blast.

Israeli and American officials have based their case on an errant Palestinian rocket, which malfunctioned in the sky, fell to the ground and hit the hospital.

NYT conducted an independent investigation of the incident, quoting experts as telling its investigators that “a widely cited missile video (that pinned the blame on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group) does not shed light on what happened.”

The video that shows a projectile streaking through the darkened skies over Gaza and exploding in the air was taken from an Al Jazeera television camera live streaming on the night of October 17. It also shows another explosion on the ground seconds later. The footage has become a widely cited piece of evidence but a detailed visual analysis by NYT concludes that the video clip shows something else.

“The missile seen in the video is most likely not what caused the explosion at the hospital. It actually detonated in the sky roughly two miles away,” NYT found.

It added that its “analysis does cast doubt on one of the most-publicised pieces of evidence that Israeli officials have used to make their case and complicates the straightforward narrative they have put forth.”

The footage “also suggests that Israeli bombardment was taking place and that two explosions near the hospital can be seen within two minutes of it being struck,” NYT added.

While casting doubts on Israel’s claims, NYT also noted that “Hamas has not produced a remnant of an Israeli munition or any physical evidence to back up its claim that Israel is responsible.”

NYT synchronised the Al Jazeera footage with five other videos filmed at the same time, including footage from an Israeli television station, Channel 12, and a CCTV camera in Tel Aviv. Using satellite imagery to triangulate the launch point in those videos, NYT determined that the projectile was fired towards Gaza from near the Israeli town of Nahal Oz shortly before the deadly hospital blast.

In addition, the videos show that the projectile in the Al Jazeera footage was launched after the barrage of Palestinian rockets Israeli officials assessed was responsible for the hospital explosion.

The videos show that from 6:59pm on October 17, barrages of Palestinian rockets are fired from two positions southwest and northwest of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital. Flames from the Palestinian rockets are visible in the nighttime sky as their engines propel them northeast towards Israel. NYT also noted that “more than 25 seconds elapse between the final Palestinian rocket and the hospital explosion.”

An earlier report by BBC News also came to a similar conclusion. BBC concluded that “it’s not possible to independently verify (a) recording” that Israel presented to support its claim that the Islamic Jihad fired the rocket that hit the hospital.

Both the BBC and NYT have faced substantial criticism for their pro-Israel reporting in the past.

Experts interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) also concluded that the visual evidence doesn’t support a standard Israeli airstrike. “But the Israeli account that it was a failed rocket also has problems,” they added.

“Israel says the rockets came from the west,” but an NGO called Earshot, which conducts sonic investigations, “found that whatever fell very likely came from the east, not the west,” NPR reported.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

Clear deterrent action is needed against terrorist groups, but without upending the lives of people in the affected areas.
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...