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Doubts Surface Regarding Israel’s Claim of Intercepted Hamas Members Call

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
20th October 2023
Doubts Surface Regarding Israel’s Claim of Intercepted Hamas Members Call
Israel published the recording 17 hours after the bombing of Baptist Hospital (X

Following the attack on the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, October 17, Israel promptly distanced itself from the incident. They provided inconsistent statements, ultimately leading to accusations against Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza. Israeli media sources and official accounts asserted that the hospital strike resulted from a missile launched by the Islamic Jihad Movement, which failed and inadvertently hit a parking area within the hospital.

The next day, in a press conference, Israeli Army spokesperson Daniel Hagari declared that the military had concluded its assessment of the operation and confirmed the Islamic Jihad Movement's responsibility for the al-Ahli Arab Hospital attack.

صورة متعلقة توضيحية

According to Hagari, at 6:15 PM, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets towards Israel. Subsequently, at 6:50 PM, the Islamic Jihad Movement launched 10 rockets from a cemetery located near the hospital. In addition, at 6:59 PM, reports emerged of an explosion at the hospital. 

He emphasized that, according to Israel intelligence, Hamas reviewed the reports and realized that the incident was a result of the Islamic Jihad missile launch failure. In response, they decided to initiate a global media campaign to conceal the actual events. He once again confirmed that the Islamic Jihad missile was launched from a cemetery adjacent to the hospital and struck the hospital's car park, which might have contained ammunition associated with terrorism, resulting in further damage. Hagari also affirmed there were no air force, ground, or naval attacks in the area at the time of the blast.

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A screenshot of the Sky News’s article.

Misbar previously published articles that questioned the credibility of Israel's narrative and presented evidence suggesting Israel's involvement in the attack on al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. 

Israeli official Accounts Posted a Call Recording

Israeli authorities, including the Israeli Army's Arabic media spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, and official Israeli Army accounts, shared a call recording two hours after the press conference. They claimed it featured a conversation between a former Hamas activist and a Gaza resident discussing a failed missile launch operation by the Islamic Jihad Movement from the cemetery behind al-Ahli Arab Hospital. This call recording was presented as evidence of Hamas recognizing the truth and attempting to shift blame onto Israel.

Our team transcribed the recording: “For the first time, I am telling you we are seeing such a rocket and its fragments. They say they belong to the Islamic Jihad." The other person asks, "Is this ours?" to which the first person responds, "It seems like it is ours; they say the rocket’s fragments are local, and it is not like the Israeli rockets." The other person comments, "Maybe, it is from our side; it did not find any place to explode better than the hospital!" He added, "Maybe they launched it from the cemetery behind al-Ahli Arab Hospital, and it bombed within it."

The Audio Released After the Israeli Narrative

There are several factors that cast doubt on the credibility of the call recording released by Israel. One of the primary concerns is the timing of its publication. The recording was made available 17 hours after the al-Ahli Arab Hospital incident and just two hours following Israel's presentation of its narrative regarding the Islamic Jihad Movement's unsuccessful missile launch from the nearby cemetery. Such a significant delay in sharing this intelligence raises suspicions.

Furthermore, the call recording essentially repeated what had already been articulated in Israel's narrative by the Israeli Army spokesperson when it was made public. It did not offer any additional details, whether related to the events leading up to the incident, the aftermath, or the conversations between the two individuals. It appears as if the content of the recording was precisely tailored to suit Israel's justification.

The Dialect in the Audio Is Not Conclusive Evidence

A Gaza resident told Misbar that the dialect used in the recording bears a striking resemblance to the local dialect but exhibits slight variations from the typical dialect of Gazans. This disparity could be attributed to the fact that the recorded call purportedly involves two individuals referred to as "Mista'arvim."

"Mista'arvim" is a special unit in the Israeli army where soldiers dress in civilian clothing, speak Arabic fluently, and undergo extensive training to master various Palestinian dialects, including those of villagers and Bedouins. Most of its members are Eastern Jews, meaning their physical features are Arabic, and they undergo rigorous training to behave and think like Palestinians, making it difficult for Palestinians to distinguish them from Arabs. This is why they are known as "Mista'arvim," meaning those who appear Arab.

"Mista'arvim" units' primary tasks include gathering intelligence and arresting Palestinians, as well as conducting what Israelis define as "counterterrorism operations." Moreover, they increase their activities in Palestinian protests that occur in various neighborhoods of the West Bank. During protests, they initially join these protests posing as Palestinian demonstrators before using their weapons and following instructions from the military to target the protesters.

According to Israeli affairs expert Antoine Shalhat, as reported by Al Jazeera, the first "Mista'arvim" unit was established between 1942 and 1950. He further noted that this unit is a component of the elite forces known as "Palmach," which, in turn, forms part of the Haganah unit, the precursor of the Israeli Forces.

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A screenshot of the New Arab’s article.

Hamas Is Aware of Israel’s Control of Telecommunication

When it comes to the call recording, one of the significant factors that raise doubts is the nature of the conversation. Given the current security tensions in Gaza, it appears highly unlikely that such sensitive information would be transmitted through a standard phone call. This is particularly the case given Israel's comprehensive control over telecommunications in the region.

Although the Oslo II Accord includes provisions addressing the Palestinian side's authority over telecommunications, the internet, and other broadcast networks, these provisions have remained limited due to the Palestinians' inability to establish the necessary infrastructure for an independent network. The primary reason for this limitation is Israel's complete control over Palestinian territories, transportation, border crossings, and borders throughout Palestine. Consequently, achieving an independent network, both in terms of its infrastructure and the core process of communication and information transfer through this network, remains unattainable outside the influence and control of the occupying forces.

In addition to the constraints outlined in the agreement, specifying that the equipment shall be used only when the Palestinian network is in operation, this restricts the Palestinian side from relying on Israeli communications for the provision of the network and its services until they achieve an independent communications and internet network. However, true independence has yet to be realized, as the occupying forces have not granted Palestinians autonomous access to this network. This leaves them dependent on the occupying forces for the supply of these services, remaining within the boundaries of their control.

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A screenshot of Oslo II Accords agreement regarding telecommunication.

The digital space in Gaza, with its multi-layered system, is also under control by Israeli tools that curb the flow of the internet into the region. These tools are designed to strip it of its full functionality and monitor the operations conducted through it.

This also applies to the logistical aspect of the internet flow into Gaza. This information is publicly available and well-known, so it is reasonable to assume Hamas members would be aware of it and would not share highly sensitive information, as was reportedly conveyed in the call recording published by Israel, through a phone call.

No Evidence of Resistance Involvement in the Baptist Hospital Massacre 

Another reason to question the reliability of the released call recording and its role as "evidence" of the Palestinian resistance factions' failure is the way the information is presented. In the recording, the first party conveys information based on hearsay, and the two speakers fail to indicate that they personally witnessed the events they are describing.

Given the timing of the call recording's release, which occurred shortly after Israel presented its narrative, and the absence of any clear indication that the individuals on the call are members of Hamas, the recording appears to have no purpose other than echoing what the Israeli narrative asserted, assuming it is accurate. It does not offer any evidence of involvement or awareness on the part of the Palestinian resistance.

It is worth noting that al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which was targeted on Tuesday, is one of the most famous healthcare facilities in Gaza. It was established over a century ago in 1919 and is one of the largest hospitals with eleven independent departments, well-known to the majority of Gaza's residents. It is expected that members of Hamas, which has been in control of Gaza for 16 years, would be familiar with the location of one of Gaza's most prominent service centers, contrary to what is suggested in the recording, which seems more like an audio piece for those unfamiliar with the region's geography.

The Gaza health ministry reports that at least 500 Palestinians lost their lives in the hospital explosion.

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A photo shows the previous and aftermath view of al-Ahly Arab hospital.

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