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Evidence Points Toward Israeli Responsibility in the Baptist Hospital Tragedy

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
20th October 2023
Evidence Points Toward Israeli Responsibility in the Baptist Hospital Tragedy
Misbar analyzed data related to the bombing of the Baptist Hospital

Following the bombing of Al-Ahly Baptist Hospital in Gaza, Israel disavowed the incident and blamed the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip. Israeli media and accounts asserted that the bombing was caused by a missile launched by the Islamic Jihad movement that accidentally struck a hospital parking lot. They also argued this happened after a missile barrage was fired from a nearby cemetery, causing the massacre that took the lives of 471 victims instantly.

Was the Missile Fired From a Cemetery?

“The army finished the post-operation review and confirmed that the Islamic Jihad movement was accountable for the attack,” Israeli Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari said. “We performed an instant review of all relevant IDF divisions.” Then, he stated, “at 6:15 p.m., Hamas unleashed a torrent of rockets at Israel.” He added that at 6:50 p.m., the Islamic Jihad movement fired a volley of 10 rockets from a cemetery close to the hospital. Then at 6:59 p.m., there were reports of an explosion at the hospital.

He also mentioned, "According to our intelligence, Hamas examined the reports and determined that this occurred because the Islamic Jihad missile failed to fire properly, and chose to initiate a global media campaign to conceal the truth."

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Daniel Hagari affirmed that the Islamic Jihad missile was fired from a cemetery adjacent to Baptist Hospital and struck the parking lot beside the hospital. This area, he suggested, probably housed terrorist weapons, causing additional damage. He asserted there was no Israeli rockets launched from land, sea, or air that could have impacted the hospital during that period.

Misbar’s team used Google Maps to locate the cemeteries around the Baptist Hospital, and cross-referenced with the statement from the Israeli army spokesperson, then juxtaposed it against the content from a supposed audio clip where someone mentioned, “The cemetery behind the hospital,” revealed that the cemetery in question was that of Sheikh Shaaban. This is about 200 meters away from the hospital on Umm Al-Yemen Street.

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The location of the Baptist Hospital and the cemetery (Google Maps)

Based on various military and news reports, the velocity of the rockets in possession of the Palestinian resistance is between 300 to 800 meters per second. Since the majority are either homemade missiles or somewhat rudimentary relative to the advancements in missile technology, they don’t increase in speed after being launched from their point of origin.

If we assume that the missiles launched from the Sheikh Shaaban cemetery, as per the Israeli narrative, were the slowest of the resistance, and they were fired at half-speed from their launch base, it would take less than two seconds to reach above Al-Ahly Baptist Hospital.

However, according to videos available online, including one aired by Al Jazeera Mubasher showing the moment the hospital was bombed, the missile was in the air for approximately 13 seconds before exploding. This indicates it covered a distance of at least 4 kilometers, which is quite far and somewhat aligns with the hospital surroundings.

Moreover, the video indicates that the missile moved from the right side of the scene to the left (south to north), and just before it exploded in the air, a white smoke trail appeared near it but in the opposite direction, showing it was likely intercepted by a ground missile.

The flames resulting from the missile’s explosion formed an upward-pointing triangle, directing towards the white smoke line opposite the missile, contrary to what would be expected from an internal explosion, which would have spread the fire in all directions. This counters the credibility of the "failed launch" theory promoted by the Israeli military.

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Scenes from the missile launch video

Discrepancies Surround the Images and Videos Released by Israel

Israeli media channels and accounts released another video recorded by a security camera in a building in the Nativ Hasara settlement in northern Gaza Strip, documenting the rockets of resistance, one of which malfunctioned and landed on the hospital, according to the Israeli version. However, this video carries several inconsistencies with the original account presented by the Israeli army.

Firstly, it seems from the video that it was captured around sunset time as sunlight is still visibly present on the far right of the horizon, which means it was between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Gaza time, considering that sunset is at 6:04 p.m., a period when the Shuja'iya neighborhood in central Gaza Strip was undergoing heavy bombing, and what is shown in the image might be one of the attacks on it. Conversely, the Baptist Hospital was bombed completely after the evening, precisely at 6:59 p.m.

Secondly, according to the video, the visible rockets were fired from a launch base in western Gaza Strip, targeting the eastern settlements, while an explosion happened in the central part of the Strip. However, given the location of Nativ Hasara settlement—where the video was shot—in relation to the Baptist Hospital and Sheikh Shaaban cemetery (from where the occupation claimed the rockets were fired), the latter is located south of the hospital in relation to the settlement, and it would not be possible to visually capture the rockets from the settlement cutting through the scene as shown.

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Netiv Hasara settlement (Google Maps)

Nativ Hasara settlement (Google Maps) Israeli Channel 12 broadcasted a video that it claimed was taken by its cameras in the city of Netivot, east of Gaza Strip, presenting what it described as “proof” that the attack on the hospital was executed by Palestinian resistance rockets and not due to an Israeli airstrike.

According to the video, it was actually recorded at 6:59 p.m., the exact time the hospital was targeted, showing rockets being fired from multiple locations in the Gaza Strip towards the north. But none of them seemed to malfunction, change direction, or fall midway, only coinciding with an explosion at the hospital.

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Upon close inspection at the top of the same scene, near the channel’s logo, we noticed the presence of white flashes also moving northward and upward, at a height almost three times higher than the altitude reached by the resistance rockets, coinciding with the hospital explosion.

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Comparing these flashes with other similar videos, we found that there are two possible explanations: either they are the effects of the burning trail resulting from the engines of fighter jets as they move upward after conducting strikes, including the F-35 aircraft used by the Israeli army to bomb Gaza, or they are decoy flares also released by fighter jets to distract ground-to-air missiles tracking heat signatures.

Comparing the Destruction: Resistance Missiles vs. The Baptist Incident

Misbar analyzed the video clip showcasing the moment Baptist Hospital near the site was bombed, comparing the strength and noise of the missile hitting the hospital to the missiles utilized by the occupying forces in their ongoing assault on Gaza, and other missiles fired by the resistance at Israeli settlements and cities.

Initially, Misbar determined that the missile was not fired from a location close to the hospital, and the pronounced whistling noise typically heard when the occupation launches its missiles at Gaza is discernible.

Referring to a video clip of an Israeli nighttime bombing of the Al-Shujaiya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on October 8, it is noticeable rhat the whistling sounds when rockets are being detonated are identical.

The occupation targeted a residential building near Al-Quds Hospital in the Tal Al-Hawa area in Gaza, the Wednesday before, and the same whistling noise was heard during the bombing.

Moreover, the time from the missile's launch, post hearing the whistle, to its impact on the ground was merely a few seconds.

This was observed in an older video clip from May 2021, during which the occupation bombed the Shorouk Tower, situated in the Roman Quarter. The building accommodated multiple TV channel offices. The whistle's sound preceding the bombing is vividly noticeable, along with the bombing's severity.

The account releasing the video clarified that during that time, the occupation army bombed the Al-Shorouk building using a precision-guided bomb or a falling JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition).

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An old raid on Al-Shorouk building in Gaza

What Are JDAM Missiles?

JDAM, Joint Direct Attack Munition, is a guidance kit converting unguided bombs into accurate and smart munitions by adding a new guidance section that includes an inertial navigation system and a GPS guidance controller. JDAM enhances the precision of unguided bombs under any weather conditions.

JDAM permits the deployment of precise air-to-surface weaponry against key fixed and relocatable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft. Navigation is also simplified via the tail control system and GPS-enhanced INS system. The navigation system receives configuration through aircraft transportation alignment that supplies position and velocity vectors from the aircraft's systems, according to Military.com.

The JDAM missiles were collectively created by the U.S. Air Force and Navy, post the Air Force’s bombing activities during the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s being disrupted by weather variations, dust, and smoke.

While exploring the potency and noises of JDAM missiles, Misbar discovered historical videos, illustrating the JDAM weapons being used for direct assaults, obliterating Taliban locations in Afghanistan in a prior combat.

The videos exhibit the same whistling noise heard during Baptist Hospital's bombing, and its immense destructive capability is evident.

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Israel Used JDAM Bombs in its War on Gaza 

According to reports, smart JDAM bombs are playing a significant role in the war on Gaza, which Israel is using extensively in its severe airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in widespread destruction during the ongoing aggression.

Israel has used these bombs to target sites in Gaza from the air in previous years as well. Israel used the same bomb during the May 2021 aggression on Gaza.

After Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel asked the United States for weapons and military assistance, including JDAM missiles and short-range interceptor missiles for the Iron Dome air defense system.

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Israel asks for more JDAM bombs.

Palestinian Resistance Missile Arsenal

There is a significant disparity in military capabilities between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions. However, when the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, launched a surprise attack on October 7 during Operation Guardian of the Walls, it became evident that the resistance had achieved a commendable level of armament and training. In addition, it acquired new advanced weapons.

Over the course of approximately two decades, the military arms of the Palestinian resistance factions, such as the Al-Qassam Brigades and the Al-Quds Brigades, have developed a substantial arsenal of rockets and projectiles capable of targeting locations throughout almost all of Israel, according to news reports. 

This arsenal includes domestically produced rockets with various ranges, including short, medium, and long-range missiles.

The first rocket developed by the Al-Qassam Brigades in 2001 was the domestically produced Qassam rocket, which went through several development stages of three generations of the rocket, with the latest having a range of approximately 15 kilometers, targeting settlements near the Gaza border.

In 2014, the Al-Qassam Brigades unveiled the domestically produced M-75 rocket with a range of about 75 kilometers, in addition to the J-80 rocket with a range of approximately 80 kilometers. The Palestinian rocket arsenal of the resistance factions also includes the Syrian-produced M-302 rocket, which has a range of over 100 kilometers.

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The Palestinian Resistance Rockets.

Al-Quds Brigades locally developed the "Buraq-120" rocket, which has a range of approximately 120 kilometers. Moreover, the Al-Qassam Brigades developed the long-range "R-160" rocket, with a range of 160 kilometers, demonstrating its capability to reach Tel Aviv in 2014.

After Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Palestinian resistance announced the "Rajoum" system, which consists of short-range 114mm caliber rockets designed to provide cover for the fighters. This system was initially used at the beginning of the operation to enable the resistance to infiltrate settlements near the border and Israeli military positions.

Furthermore, Al-Quds Brigades's media announced the development of the "Al-Qassem" rocket, which were used by the faction during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The Palestinian resistance usually launches its rockets from fixed locations with the aim of targeting Israeli aircraft that bombard Gaza or strike specific locations within the occupied Palestinian territories. The resistance does not have military aircraft that can enter the occupied territory to strike there. Al-Quds Brigades posted a video showing the rockets used in their attacks against the Israeli occupation during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

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Al-Quds Brigades launch rockets during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

In addition, Al-Quds Brigades published another video featuring rocket salvos launched towards Tel Aviv during the operation. The video shows vertical rockets, and their sound differs from what is heard during the bombing of al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

After reviewing various video clips that reveal the extent of damage caused by the resistance rockets upon falling into sites inside occupied territory, it is evident that they do not show the same level of damage as Israeli rockets. Many scenes show that the resistance rockets often cause minor damage, such as destroying building facades and burning vehicles, without destroying the entire infrastructure. In contrast, Israeli rockets can demolish buildings, residential homes, and complete infrastructure in a single strike due to their advanced missile systems.

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An aerial view of the damaged buildings in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza (Getty)
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Damage to a building in Ashkelon due to a rocket strike from Gaza (Getty)

Experts: Israel is Responsible for al-Ahli Arab Hospital Bombing

After analyzing the scene of the hospital's bombing, experts, including Mike Mihajlovic, a specialist in defense technologies and a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, pointed out that “Listening several times to the different noises, and comparing with the one that shows JADAM hit (next post) there is a pattern: background constant level noise and the high pitch sound of the bomb is characteristic.”

He further added in a series of posts on his X account, "There is a third possibility - the hit by a ballistic missile like LORA - the similar high pitch sound but the warhead is smaller compared to JDAM bombs." He clarified, "a Hamas rocket would be at the very bottom of the suspect list. As always, until proven, take everything with reserve."

While conducting an assessment of the scenes showing the bombing of al-Ahli Arab Hospital and the sound of the used bomb, Sait Ersoy Bereketlioğlu, Troy Technology Defense Manager, a company specializing in the production of warheads, small missiles, and high-explosive chemicals, made indications.

Bereketlioğlu stated to Anadolu Agency that the evidence of the projectile hitting the hospital and the sound and intensity of the explosion suggest that it may be a "2000-pound MK-84 bomb equipped with JDAM and not a missile."

He explained that the bomb could be highly destructive if it hits its target at the right angle, pointing out that these bombs can be filled with various types of explosives to increase their effectiveness, and an MK-84 bomb containing HMX has a penetrating effect and can easily destroy buildings.

Bereketlioğlu also revealed that the other possibility is that it could be a hardened penetration bomb of the BLU-109 type, also using MK-84, confirming that both of these bombs are in the stock of the Israeli military.

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Bereketlioğlu’s comment to the Anadolu Agency.

Palestinian Resistance Refutes Israeli Claims

Israel initially accused Hamas of causing the massacre at al-Ahly Arab Hospital before shifting blame to the Islamic Jihad.

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas issued a statement, refuting the Israeli narrative that accused the resistance factions of causing the massacre at al-Ahly Arab Hospital. The statement clarified that the Israeli occupation had contacted the directors of 21 hospitals in Gaza, including al-Ahly Arab Hospital, asking them to evacuate immediately as these hospitals were within the geographic scope of Israeli military operations. This was conveyed by official Israeli spokespersons and several hospital directors in live interviews on Al Jazeera.

The statement further mentioned that on last Saturday, at exactly 8:30 p.m., the Israeli army fired two shells toward al-Ahly Arab Hospital. The following morning, the army called the hospital director, Dr. Maher Ayad, saying, “We warned you last night with two shells, so why haven't you evacuated the hospital until now?” The hospital director then contacted the Bishop of the Evangelical Church in the United Kingdom, who, in turn, reached out to international organizations before sending a message to the hospital that they could stay. However, Israel bombed the hospital on Tuesday, leaving over 500 civilians dead.

Hamas emphasized that the resistance's rockets are domestically produced and do not possess the destructive power that would result in hundreds of casualties, unlike the Israeli missiles.

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Translated statement by Hamas.

Hamas's statement indicated that the Israeli army's spokesperson quickly published a statement on their X and Telegram platforms at 7:17 p.m. immediately after the massacre. The statement reads, "We had warned of the evacuation of al-Ahly Arab Hospital and five other hospitals so that Hamas, the terrorist organization, does not make them a refuge." Hamas described it as "the obvious responsible for this massacre." 

However, the statement was soon deleted from the Israeli army's spokesperson's account after witnessing the horrific scale of the massacre, the large number of casualties, Arab, regional, and international reactions, public and official outrage. He then issued another statement, denying that he had issued the first statement.

Furthermore, the Islamic Jihad's representative denied Israeli claims and accusations of the hospital bombing in Gaza. Daoud Shihab, the Islamic Jihad movement's spokesman, stated that the al-Ahly Arab Hospital massacre is a heinous, fully-fledged crime, confirming it to be an Israeli crime.

In response to Israeli claims against the resistance factions for committing the massacre, Shihab said, "It is a false claim because Israel, after this crime, felt that there is a crisis and a global uprising against these aggressive and savage policies it is committing." He stressed that "Israel, once again, resorts to lying for media deception and international deception, which it practices to continue its crime."

On the other hand, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza stated that the Israeli occupation threatened al-Ahly Arab Hospital, as it did with other hospitals, before the bombing, adding that "al-Ahly Arab Hospital was targeted two days before the violent bombing."

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A translated post of the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Israel Refuses International Investigation

Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army spokesperson, spoke about the incident to Al Arabiya on Wednesday and stated that "intelligence information confirmed to the Israeli army from the very beginning that the explosion resulted from a failed launch of a rocket belonging to the Islamic Jihad."

When asked if Israel would object to opening an international committee to investigate the incident since it is sure that it did not strike the hospital, Adraee did not directly answer the question. Instead, he stated that the Israeli army relies on four factors in its account, which are that "there was no Israeli ground, sea, or air strike in the vicinity of the hospital at that time." Before he could continue, he mentioned that Hamas was the sole entity responsible for the massacre.

The host repeated his question about opening an international investigation into the incident, and Adraee evaded the question by saying that Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif were the ones who brought Gaza to where it is today, adding that "Israel is in a war against falsehood." He mentioned that what prevents an international investigation is that "the truth is as clear as daylight."

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