According to a European military source interviewed by FRANCE 24, a misfired rocket fired by a Palestinian faction in Gaza was likely responsible for the explosion at al-Ahli hospital. The death toll from the explosion, which Hamas attributed to an Israeli airstrike, is likely to be lower than announced, the same source said.
Issued on: October 20, 2023 – 9:14 p.m
Hamas and the Israeli government traded blame for the deadly explosion that rocked al-Ahli hospital in central Gaza on October 17. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 471 people died, while US intelligence sources estimate the death toll to be between 100 and 300. Hamas officials blamed the blast on an Israeli airstrike, with Israeli authorities in turn saying it was the explosion It was the result of a misfired rocket fired by the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad denied responsibility.
This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies, taken on October 19, 2023, shows the aftermath of an attack that occurred on October 17, 2023 at Al-Ahli Hospital and the surrounding area in Gaza City. © Satellite Image 2023 Maxar Technology / AFP
After examining images showing the damage at the impact site at Al-Ahli Hospital, a European military source interviewed by FRANCE 24 disputed Hamas’s version of the events, taking into account the weapons likely used and the context in which the attack took place took place.
Satellite images of the impact appear to show minor structural damage to the hospital buildings and a relatively small blast zone from the blast. The impact point appears to be a 30 cm deep hole with a diameter of about one meter and 75 cm. This damage pattern is consistent with a rocket carrying about 5kg of explosives, and no more than 10kg, the source said. A metal object visible at the bottom of the hole appears to have an oblique tilt, which the source interprets as the result of a south-north trajectory.
An image of the impact near Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza taken on October 18, 2023. © Mohammed Al-Masri, Reuters
Photos taken the day after the attack show several surrounding buildings and vehicles still relatively intact, with some windows broken by either the explosion or the ensuing fire. It appears that there are no rocket or missile remains around the site.
Of the possible scenarios, the military source considered some of them unlikely based on the weapons likely used and the damage seen in these images.
– An air-to-ground attack by an Israeli fighter jet
The European source claimed that we can rule out this hypothesis since the Israeli military’s usual 250 kg bomb would have left a huge crater rather than a 30 cm deep hole. A fighter jet strike or even a smaller drone strike appeared unlikely because there was no debris, the source said. The source also referred to a confidential image that purported to show the end of a rocket in the hole.
– An intercepted Palestinian missile
The same source explained that Israel’s missile interception system typically destroys incoming projectiles in the middle of their trajectory, rather than during the firing phase. Additionally, the source said debris from an intercepted missile could not have caused the damage observed on the ground. The source also ruled out the possibility that an Israeli interceptor missile could hit Al-Ahli Hospital, arguing that Israel’s interceptors were programmed to explode at a certain altitude to prevent debris from hitting Israeli civilians below .
Israel’s Iron Dome defense system AFP
– Incorrect handling of explosives
There was no surveillance or satellite imagery to suggest a car bomb exploded or that explosives were being handled at the site, the European military source said.
– A misfired rocket from a Palestinian faction
The European military source said the explosion was likely caused by a rocket fired from Gaza. The dimensions of the hole and the damage caused by the explosion are consistent with the smaller rocket model used by Palestinian factions, the source said – about 107 mm, with a warhead of about 5 kg.
An analysis of the context also supports this hypothesis, the source said, saying there is a 10 percent misfire rate for Palestinian rockets. According to confidential information the source reportedly shared with other intelligence agencies, Hamas and other Palestinian factions had fired about 6,500 rockets as of October 17, compared to between 5,000 and 6,000 Israeli strikes.
The European military source also questioned the death toll announced by Gaza’s health ministry, saying it was highly unlikely that 471 people died in that explosion. Aside from the size of the hole and the limited structural damage, the typical death-to-injured ratio suggests that for every person killed, there may be four injured, the source said.
The fact that the explosion occurred outdoors, coupled with the small amount of human remains such as blood, hair and clothing visible at the site, as well as the speed with which the death toll was announced, all suggest that the death toll is inflated is the source.
Source : www.france24.com