US intelligence estimates that 100 to 300 people were likely killed in the attack on Gaza’s Ahli Arab Hospital, according to excerpts of a document seen by AFP on Thursday – far fewer than the nearly 500 deaths reported Hamas health authorities said the enclave was originally described.
An unclassified US intelligence assessment provided to AFP by a Capitol Hill source puts the number of people killed in hospital on Tuesday evening at the “lower end of the range of 100 to 300”.
“We are still assessing the likely death toll and our assessment may evolve, but this death toll still reflects a staggering loss of life,” the document said.
“The United States takes the deaths of all civilians seriously and is working intensively to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” the document said.
The attack occurred around 5:00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday, when Gaza’s health ministry said an Israeli airstrike hit the Christian-run Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza City.
Gaza officials said the blast killed at least 471 people and injured more than 300.
Hamas blamed the killings on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli army blamed a misfire on a rocket from another Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad.
According to the US intelligence document, “Israel likely did not bomb the Gaza hospital” and the United States continues to work “to confirm whether the explosion was due to a failed PIJ (Islamic Jihad in Palestine) rocket.”
The document also states that there was “only minor structural damage to the hospital,” “no apparent damage to the main hospital building and no impact craters.”
AFP correspondents saw dozens of bodies at the scene, with medics and civilians recovering corpses wrapped in white sheets, blankets or black plastic bags.
Bloodstains and burned cars could be seen in the hospital’s courtyard.
Images of the hospital after the attack released by satellite monitoring group Maxar show that the hospital buildings appeared mostly intact.
Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus also disputed the Hamas-run ministry’s figures, asking: “Where are all the bodies?”
Hamas has rejected Israel’s position, saying that “its outrageous lies deceive no one.”
The estimated death toll in the United States is higher than the 50 people a senior European intelligence source had previously told AFP had been killed.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said there was “no excuse for attacking a hospital full of civilians” in Gaza but did not blame the blast.
Gaza was hit by relentless Israeli fire in retaliation for a Hamas militant attack on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people, most of them civilians, according to Israel.
According to the Hamas Health Ministry, Israeli bombings have since killed at least 3,785 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians.
Tens of thousands of families have sought refuge from the bombardment in and around Gaza’s overcrowded hospitals.
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