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Misfired projectile & propaganda: NYT expose counters Israeli claim on Al-Ahli hospital blast

A girl tries to collect usable belongings amid wreckage of vehicles after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit in Gaza City on October 18.

A north, south, east and west analysis of video footage of a projectile that was alleged to have hit Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City on October 18 resulting in deaths of around 500 people, including patients and children, by the New York Times has countered the claim of Israeli Defence Forces that it was fired from Palestinian side (most probably by Islamic Jihad group) and fell onto the hospital after “malfunction”. The NYT analysis scans the Al Jazeera footage with five other videos filmed at the same time, including footage from an Israeli television station, Channel 12, and a CCTV camera in Tel Aviv.

The attack on Al-Ahli hospital had happened exactly when US President Joe Biden swept into Israel, and he had later blamed it on “the other team”. He however had also advised Tel Aviv not to be consumed by rage like what “US did after 9/11”.

Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had shared the footage of falling projectile three times on X, formerly known as Twitter. Parroting the same line, American officials made the case that an errant Palestinian rocket malfunctioned in the sky, fell to the ground and caused a deadly explosion at the hospital.

Israeli officials have also pointed to the same Al Jazeera video in media interviews and social media.

The detailed NYT visual analysis concludes that the video clip — taken from an Al Jazeera television camera livestreaming on the night of October 17 — shows something else. The missile seen in the video is most likely not what caused the explosion at the hospital. It actually detonated in the sky roughly two miles away, the NYT found, and is an unrelated aspect of the fighting that unfolded over the Israeli-Gaza border that night.

The NYT analysis also concluded that the missile in the video was never near the hospital. It was launched from Israeli town of Nahal Oz, not Gaza, and appears to have exploded above the Israeli-Gaza border, at least two miles away from the hospital.

The NYT writes that it cannot independently identify the type of projectile that was fired from Israel, though it was launched from an area known to have an Iron Dome defense system.

The NYT finding does not answer what actually did cause the Al-Ahli blast, or who is responsible. And that also that the possibility that a Palestinian rocket getting misfired causing hospital carnage remains plausible, the NYT writes.

Asked about the NYT’s findings, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, US, said the NYT’s and American intelligence agencies had different interpretations of the video, the NYT wrote in its report.

Within an hour of the hospital blast, an information war had begun, that still continues to find the culprits for Al-Ahli deaths. The NYT expose will likely turn the opinion away from Israeli claims.

“See, there is an outrage in public in almost all the countries in the West. The perception of the public depends on what sort of information they are being presented. A credible newspaper like the NYT exposing Israeli claims about a grave tragedy will surely change the public perception more. It also hints that the US government along with Western nations like Germany and France may exert pressure on Israel for de-escalation and a pathway to ceasefire is found,” said Navaid Hamid, a prominent Muslim activist and a keen West Asia observer.

An earlier report by BBC News also came to a similar conclusion. BBC concluded that “it’s not possible to independently verify (a) recording” that Israel presented to support its claim that the Islamic Jihad fired the rocket that hit the hospital.

Experts interviewed by Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) also concluded that the visual evidence doesn’t support a standard Israeli airstrike. “But the Israeli account that it was a failed rocket also has problems,” they added.

“Israel says the rockets came from the west,” but an NGO called Earshot, which conducts sonic investigations, “found that whatever fell very likely came from the east, not the west,” the NPR reported.