Evidence Suggests Hospital Blown Up By Misfired Missile, Not Israeli Strike
Protests have broken out across the Middle East in Beirut, Amman, Istanbul, Ankara, Beirut, Baghdad, Tripoli and elsewhere in reaction to the hospital explosion in Gaza. Hamas is actively inciting the protests with propaganda blaming Israel.
This morning, speaking from Tel Aviv, Biden took a strong stand supporting Israel, while at the same time warning Israel’s leaders and people not to be consumed by rage and make the same mistakes the U.S. made after the attack on 9/11. Biden’s national security spokesman said that Biden had been shown U.S. intelligence indicating that “Israel was not responsible” for the hospital blast, confirming that the explosion was not caused by an Israeli missile strike, but rather by an Islamic Jihad missile that exploded in mid-air over the hospital. Debris from the explosion hit a central hospital courtyard being used as a car park where Palestinian civilians were sheltering.
Hamas is still claiming that “hundreds” were killed, but there is no way to confirm that number since Hamas controls hospitals in Gaza and all information about injured or dead civilians is cleared by Hamas before it is released by the hospitals.
Here is a BBC aerial photo of the al-Ahli hospital complex taken before the explosion.
Images from the site of the explosion show burned out cars in a central courtyard surrounded by buildings that are part of the hospital complex. But only a few cars are completely burned out, with undamaged cars and buildings all around them. In a photo shown on CNN this morning, you could see undamaged cars just outside of the image of the courtyard and burned out cars below:
There is one small crater, maybe two to three feet in diameter, in an open part of the courtyard, which is paved with bricks. Only a small area of bricks were damaged, as seen in this close-up of the crater:
Note that the hospital buildings in the background are not damaged. Even the tiles on a small roof overhang are disturbed, but not completely blown up. You can also see the solar array I described last night that could be seen in profile in a video of the blast.
Last night, I posted an image of a fire at the end of a small passageway between two buildings in the hospital complex. That passageway, and the fence alongside it that can be seen in last night’s photo, re-posed below, is at the top right corner of the red circle showing “upturned vehicle.” Here is the photo from last night’s column. We can now tell that the fires in the background are individual burning cars:
So, what happened? Images I saw last night that were photographed from a distance showed a fire raging in a small area which we now know was the hospital courtyard. As I wrote last night, the fire appeared to be a geyser of flame like one you would see from an oil well explosion. This morning, CNN showed an image of the fire still raging, with the geyser of flame still shooting straight up in the air in the daylight, hours after the initial fire started. Automobile fires don’t last that long. The flammable parts of a burning car burn themselves out within an hour if they are not put out with hoses. The cars in this photo look like the fires that consumed them went out on their own:
CNN showed a image apparently from Israeli intelligence that pictured several missiles tracked by Israel’s Iron Dome radar. It was a graphic, not a real image from a radar screen, and it depicted the probable mid-air explosion over the hospital site as a small circle.
All the information we get about the al-Ahli hospital explosion at this point is going to be fragmentary and inconclusive. CNN played a recording of what they called “Hamas operatives” intercepted by Israeli intelligence in which one operative told the other that the explosion was “ours.” He continued by explaining that the shrapnel on the site of the explosion was not from an Israeli strike but from “one of ours.”
Right now, all that is evident about the explosion is that it killed Palestinian civilians who were using the hospital complex as a place to seek shelter. It is becoming more and more clear as the hours tick by that the explosion was not caused by an Israeli missile, but rather by a missile misfire, probably a Qassam rocket with a small warhead. I don’t know what could cause the geyser of flame that burned for hours after the initial explosion other than some sort of petroleum product, probably liquid petroleum (LP) gas, that shot into the air from an underground storage tank of some kind. A damaged LP tank does not splinter into dozens of pieces, but rather lets out gas from a crack or break in the surface of the tank that ignites and becomes the kind of geyser of flame shown in videos from last night and the CNN video this morning that was taken in daylight.
As more information comes out about the cause of the blast, the big story is going to continue to be the number of civilians killed and the way Hamas exploits their deaths. With demonstrations against Israel and the West occurring all over the Middle East right now, the deaths of 1,300 Israelis killed in the savage Hamas attack on October 7 have taken a backseat in the news to the story of the al-Ahli explosion.
For right now, Hamas is winning the propaganda war.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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