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Hamas refuses to prove ‘Israeli strike’ on Gaza hospital – NYT

There is nothing left of the missile that struck Ahli Arab Hospital, the Palestinian group has said

The projectile that struck the parking lot of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza cannot be inspected, a Hamas spokesperson has told the New York Times. Israel has denied responsibility for last week’s deadly strike, claiming it was a misfired rocket by another Palestinian group.

“The missile has dissolved like salt in the water,” Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, told the US outlet in a phone interview on Sunday. “It’s vaporized. Nothing is left.”

“Who says we’re obligated to present the remnants of every rocket that kills our people? In general, you can come and research and confirm for yourself from the evidence we possess,” Salama Maroof, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run government in Gaza, said in a text message.

Al Ahli Arab, also known as the Baptist Hospital, is one of the oldest medical facilities in Gaza. Last Tuesday’s explosion damaged the hospital and killed a number of Palestinian civilians seeking shelter from Israeli airstrikes. 

By Wednesday, Israel was blaming Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), saying one of their missiles malfunctioned and struck the hospital compound. Israel claims that more than 550 rockets launched by Hamas and PIJ during the current conflict have struck their own territory. 

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When asked by the Times to provide logs of Israel Defense Force (IDF) activity in the area at the time, as well as other evidence for their claim of Palestinian responsibility, the Israeli government declined. 

“We have made mistakes, I am not going to deny it,” Musab Al-Breim, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad told the Times in an interview last Wednesday. “However, not mistakes of this size.”

Any remnants of the munition that struck the hospital’s parking lot appeared to have been removed by the time Western reporters arrived on the site the following morning, according to the Times.

Gaza authorities have initially estimated up to 833 deaths from the blast, before revising that number to 471. However, the Hamas-run health ministry has declined to release further details about the victims, saying that not all of them have been identified. According to a local doctor quoted by Reuters, more than 3,000 people were sheltering inside the hospital compound at the time, many of them residents displaced by Israeli airstrikes.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the October 7 attacks by the Gaza-based group on nearby villages, towns and military bases, in which an estimated 1,400 Israelis have died. Israeli artillery and air strikes have since killed over 4,300 Palestinians, 40% of them children, Gaza health authorities have said. According to the New York Times, this “high reported death toll has undermined international support for Israel’s counterattack.” 

Last week’s hospital attack was condemned by the Arab League, the African Union, the EU, UN, and World Health Organization, as well as Russia, China, India, and Türkiye. Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, and Türkiye blamed Israel. Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany denounced the attack but did not name the culprit. US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion” but endorsed Israel’s version of events.

 

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