Jerusalem, Oct 18 (EFE).- Israel on Wednesday claimed that the death toll from an explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab hospital was much lower than the hundreds reported overnight as only a parking lot had been destroyed – attributing it to a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant group – while the main building remained intact.
“Hamas understood with absolute certainty that it was a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad that damaged the hospital. They went as far as to inflate the number of casualties,” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a press conference, insisting that the building had not suffered a direct impact.
Hagari said there was no “structural damage” to the building as its walls were intact and no there were no craters consistent with an airstrike.
“There was no IDF fire from the land, sea or air that hit the hospital,” he claimed.
According to the spokesperson, at around 7 pm on Tuesday the launch of 10 rockets by the PIJ was observed from a cemetery close to the hospital and one of them lost its trajectory and fell on the spot, a common occurrence according to him.
During the press conference, Hagari displayed images of the area supposedly taken by an Israeli drone after the explosion was reported, showing a space of 20-40 meters around the hospital with around 20 cars, out of which only two or three appear seriously damaged.
He claimed that the damage was not caused by the explosive warhead of a projectile but by unspent propellent fuel catching fire.
The military spokesperson insisted that the IDF had intercepted conversations among Gaza militants reporting the impact and describing it as a PIJ rocket, and claimed that the shrapnel found on the spot was not consistent with Israeli missile models.
While admitting that there may have been casualties as people had gathered in the parking due to considering it a safe spot, Hagari claimed that Hamas had inflated the death toll.
However, he refused to offer his own estimate of the casualties.
The IDF officer said that during the 12-day conflict, around 450 of the rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza had malfunctioned and fallen within the enclave.
The Al-Ahli hospital, also known as the Baptist hospital, is managed by the Anglican Church of Jerusalem, which on Tuesday night condemned the attack and the “innumerable loss of lives.” EFE