Hamas Call Intercepted: Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza Bombed by Islamic Jihad

Even seasoned journalists have been commenting to me repeatedly that they need better source analysis and perspective in this new war to find truth. Hopefully this helps.

The Israeli government alleges it has a recording of Hamas itself identifying the Ahli Arab hospital bombers, as reported by The Guardian.

Israel’s foreign ministry has published what it claims is an intercepted call between two Hamas operatives where they discuss how the al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital has been struck by a failed rocket fired from within Gaza.

Reuters reported additional details provided by the Israeli Defense Forces.

…chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said an investigation had “confirmed that there was no IDF (Israel Defence Forces) fire from the land, sea or air that hit the hospital”. He said there was no structural damage to buildings around the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital and no craters consistent with an air strike. Asked to explain the size of the explosion at the site, Hagari said it was consistent with unspent rocket fuel catching fire. “Most of this damage would have been done due to the propellant, not just the warhead,” he said.

Israel has categorically denied targeting hospitals, however we know they also gave orders to evacuate by October 14 (four days ago) on the premise of reducing civilian casualties by moving them out of harms way.

Al Awda Hospital was struggling to evacuate dozens of patients and staff after the military contacted it and told it to do so by Friday night, said the aid group Doctors Without Borders, known as MSF, which supports the facility. The military extended the deadline to Saturday morning, it said.

As a historian, I am reminded of the Yalta Conference 4 February 1945 when Stalin opened the conversation with Churchill by asking “why haven’t you bombed Dresden?”

The issue for Stalin was this German city had become a weapons manufacturing and military command center. We also know very clearly today that it had become an essential hub of Nazi operations for brutally targeting and killing millions of civilians.

Ten days later, the Allied commanders unleashed nearly 800 Allied planes and upwards of 4,000 tons of explosives to destroy Nazi ability to orchestrate further attacks from Dresden.

Afterwards Churchill expressed disappointment with high civilian casualties, to which Air Chief Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris famously wrote to the Air Ministry in response:

Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things.

The Axis also tried to propagandize the destruction of Dresden. Their military was known to regularly target civilians with strafing, indiscriminate bombing and even aiming at ambulances and hospitals. The Nazis thus tried to accuse an Allied “dicker Hund” over Dresden of using same inhumane tactics, yet ultimately none of such targeting accusations were found to be true. The opposite, undermining Nazi propaganda, Churchill was very clearly displeased with the air force adopting inhumane “area bombing” tactics and pressed for improved precision to avoid civilians. Inhumane, and also different from other inhumane acts.

Tragically 25,000 German civilians were killed by British use of widespread area bombing. The operation continues to be debated to this day for many reasons, yet the Nazi occupation of a city to perpetuate and orchestrate their massive Holocaust is front and center to any discussion about nineteen Dresden hospitals destroyed in 1945.

Based on reports so far there has been no evidence that Israel targeted or even accidentally hit the hospital with bombs.

I expect further investigation to continue and reports to evolve. One intercepted call isn’t alone enough to prove fault, which is why Israel also has been providing details that can easily be verified.

Update Oct 19:

The Guardian provides further analysis (OSINT) that the hospital was blown up by Islamic Jihad.

Justin Bronk, the senior research fellow for airpower and military technology at RUSI in London, said that while the results were not conclusive, no crater or obvious shrapnel pattern consistent with standard [Israeli] JDAM bombs was visible in images of the aftermath. “If this is the extent of the damage then I’d say an airstrike looks less likely than a rocket failure causing an explosion and fuel fire,” he added.

And again:

Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon chief of high value targeting during the Iraq war in 2003, told the Guardian: “The number [of casualties] is astronomically high, an absolute high range of all time if true. “The crater is not consistent with an airstrike, it is more likely to be a weapon that failed and released its payload over a wide area. “The crater and surrounding damage is also not consistent with a JDAM aerial bomb. The hole on the ground occurred from kinetic energy.”

Thousands of people had moved into the large open courtyard of the hospital, instead of evacuating the city.

Just hours before the fateful bombing, the refugee children who sought safe shelter at Ahli Hospital gathered in the courtyard of Ahli Hospital together to sing for peace (“Salaam”), in a moving moment of solidarity and joy amidst the darkness. […] We do know that Director Suhaila Tarazi evacuated South before the attack, and is presumed safe.

Then, according to the intercepted Hamas call, a rocket was fired from the cemetery adjacent to the hospital that failed on launch and instead landed directly on the hospital.

Satellite view of the cemetery in Gaza adjacent to Ahli Arab hospital (H) that Hamas says was used by terrorists to launch missiles at civilians. Source: Google Maps

Notably, three days earlier the hospital also had been struck by rockets being fired nearby.

Rockets being fired nearby on October 14 struck the hospital upper floors, injuring four staff. Source: AFEDJ

The question I don’t see being asked, yet surely on the mind of reporters, is what kind of group would position rocket launches near one of the oldest and most famous hospitals in Gaza being used to shelter children?

Gaza terrorists launching large rockets so near to a hospital, immoral acts to intentionally use civilians as shields while also targeting civilians, increasingly are being proven to be the predictable and sole cause of the Ahli Arab tragedy.

Update Oct 23:

The NYT has apologized formally to its readers for bad reporting on this incident (parroting terrorist propaganda).

The early versions of the coverage—and the prominence it received in a headline, news alert and social media channels—relied too heavily on claims by Hamas, and did not make clear that those claims could not immediately be verified. […] The report left readers with an incorrect impression about what was known and how credible the account was. […] Times editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation.

“Taken more care” implies editors did more than nothing. It reads to me more like the NYT should have taken care.

Kudos to the Guardian for showing how to do a better job of it. Should be obvious to not parrot terrorist propaganda.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.