Palestinian rocket misfire could be behind blast at Gaza's Al Ahli Hospital, NGO says

Explosion at Gaza hospital triggered outrage around the world

The findings were based on photos, videos and satellite imagery as well as on testimony from witnesses and experts. EPA-EFE
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NGO Human Rights Watch has said that evidence shows a rocket misfired by a Palestinian militant group could have been the cause behind a blast at Gaza's Al Ahli Hospital on October 17.

“The explosion that killed and injured many civilians" could have resulted from a "rocket-propelled munition, such as those commonly used by Palestinian armed groups”, the NGO said on Sunday.

The findings were based on photos, videos and satellite imagery as well as on testimony from witnesses and experts.

Human Rights Watch the evidence available made the possibility of a large, air-dropped bomb, such as those Israel has used extensively in Gaza, highly unlikely.

The blast at the hospital triggered outrage around the world. Palestinians blamed the explosion on Israel, while Israel said it was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

Gaza's Health Ministry said 471 people were killed in the blast, though Israel disputes this figure. An unclassified US intelligence report estimated the death toll “at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum”.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has rejected the Human Rights Watch report, calling it biased towards Israel and lacking conclusive evidence.

The hospital blast was one of the most fiercely disputed incidents in a war marked by accusations from both sides of disinformation and war crimes.

Emmanuel Nahshon, deputy director general for public diplomacy at Israel's Foreign Ministry, criticised the time it took for the NGO to release its findings.

“More than a month to reach half-heartedly the conclusion the whole world reached after two days,” he said on X.

Human Rights Watch said reports of 471 dead and 342 injured “displays an unusually high killed-to-injured ratio” and appeared to be “out of proportion” with the damage visible on the site.

Ida Sawyer, the organisation's conflict director, urged authorities in Gaza and Israel to release munition remnants and other information they have regarding the explosion to allow for a full investigation.

Hospitals have come under bombardment in the Israel-Gaza conflict and all those in the northern part of the enclave have effectively ceased functioning normally, although they continue to house some patients who could not flee as well as displaced people.

Palestinians accuse Israel of attacking hospitals and schools, while Israel says Hamas uses ordinary Gazans as human shields by placing military positions in civilian buildings.

The latest from the Israel-Gaza war – in pictures

Updated: November 28, 2023, 7:00 AM