US cites ‘high confidence’ rocket launched from Gaza caused hospital explosion | ET REALITY


U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they now had “high confidence” that the explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza last week was the result of a Palestinian rocket that broke up in mid-flight, and that there was no weapon Israeli involved in the explosion.

Officials said, however, that numerous mysteries remained about the incident. They include how many people were killed or injured when, according to the United States, the warhead of a Palestinian rocket landed in the hospital parking lot. But they said there was little damage to the hospital and the structure did not collapse.

U.S. intelligence agencies released no new images or other new evidence to make their case. Instead, they said their strengthened assessment came from Israeli interceptions of Palestinian armed groups and publicly available videos. Those videos, U.S. officials said, allowed them to assess that the rocket was launched from Gaza and, after a “catastrophic engine failure,” the warhead landed in the hospital parking lot. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said there was no evidence that an Israeli launch could have been responsible.

A U.S. intelligence official said analysis of the videos has focused primarily on one recorded by Al Jazeera, although there are multiple Videos of projectiles in the sky and the explosion at the hospital. US intelligence analysis of the Al Jazeera video is at odds with a New York Times investigation, which found that the projectile shown in that video and others was launched from Israel and exploded far from the hospital. A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said The Times and intelligence agencies had different interpretations of the video.

US officials said their assessment was also based on intercepted communications provided by the Israelis and images of the explosion and its aftermath. Last week, US officials said their early intelligence showed the blast was caused by an armed Palestinian group, refuting Palestinian claims that an Israeli strike caused the blast. US spy agencies did not release detailed evidence at the time to support their assessment.

On Tuesday, US intelligence officials reaffirmed their assessment that Israel was not responsible for the explosion. The assessment reflected a greater degree of certainty on the part of US intelligence officials that Israel was not responsible for the explosion.

Israel has said that the explosion, which caused a significant number of casualties, was caused by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group allied to Hamas. The group said Israel’s accusations that one of its rockets failed and hit the hospital were “false and unfounded.” Hamas has not provided any documentation regarding Israeli involvement.

The hospital explosion sparked protests throughout the region. In one of the first claims, Hamas said that the hospital had been hit by an Israeli missile. President Biden, who was flying to Israel for a visit, said last week that preliminary evidence was that the attack had been “conducted by the other team,” but that the conclusion was preliminary.

But Hamas’s initial narrative took hold, especially at a time when Israel was carrying out airstrikes ahead of a possible ground attack aimed at eliminating Hamas after the terrorist attack that the Israeli government says killed more than 1,400 people. .

The latest US assessment is based in part on what has not been discovered. A senior intelligence official said there were no images of any Palestinian displaying an Israeli weapon at the bomb site.

U.S. officials said there was only minor damage at the site, consistent with the premise that a Gaza-made rocket broke up in flight, rather than an Israeli munition that hit the hospital.

Images of a fireball at the hospital site and photographs taken after the fact showing burned cars in the complex’s parking lot are consistent with a damaged missile, according to US officials.

The US assessment also relies heavily on interceptions provided by Israeli intelligence agencies. US officials said the Israelis have provided multiple recordings that US intelligence agencies say they have authenticated. All of the recordings are second-hand accounts: Hamas members discussing their belief that the explosion was caused by an errant or defective rocket fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. U.S. officials did not provide recordings or transcripts of these interceptions.

The declassified assessment does not provide specific information about where US intelligence officials believe the rocket that caused the explosion was launched from inside Gaza.

But the senior official said the agencies were still investigating. If the United States obtains additional information that points in a different direction, the official said, intelligence agencies will release it.

On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain said his country’s intelligence services assessed that a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza and aimed at Israel was likely the cause of the deaths at the hospital.

“Based on the deep knowledge and analysis of our intelligence and weapons experts, the British government judges that the explosion was probably caused by a missile or part of one that was launched from Gaza towards Israel,” Sunak said.

Last week, US intelligence agencies said they were working to corroborate an Israeli assessment that the explosion was the result of a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The death toll from the hospital explosion remains a matter of controversy.

U.S. officials estimated last week that between 100 and 300 people were killed, but said the death toll was likely at the lower end of that range. On Tuesday, U.S. officials said they had little confidence in that assessment. Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said the death toll was 471, a figure revised downward from its previous assessment of 500.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that it was impossible to obtain an accurate count of people who died in the hospital due to a lack of independent sources.

Days after Hamas accused Israel of bombing a hospital in Gaza City and killing hundreds of people, the Palestinian armed group has yet to present or describe any evidence linking Israel to the explosion, saying it cannot find the evidence. ammunition that hit the scene and has refused to provide details to support his casualty count.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry also refused to reveal more details about those 471 victims, and all traces of the ammunition have apparently disappeared from the explosion site, adding to the difficulty of assessing its provenance. Casting further doubt on Hamas’ claims, the crash site turned out to be the hospital parking lot, and not the hospital itself.

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