Article published in The Daily Express, 19 October 2023. © Richard Kemp
I have no doubt that the horrific blast at Al-Ahli Hospital was the work of Iran-sponsored Islamic Jihad, the second most dangerous terrorist group in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has made clear that they fired no munitions in the area at or close to the time of the attack. They have also published evidence from radar imagery confirming the missile that struck the hospital was launched by Islamic Jihad from a cemetery. Furthermore Israeli intelligence has released voice intercepts of jihadist radio traffic at the time saying the attack came from them.
Should we believe the Israelis? In my extensive experience of conflict in Israel, the IDF invariably admits when they make errors that result in civilian deaths. They waited around two hours until they initially indicated it was not one of their missiles and only several hours later confirmed for sure who was responsible. This is because IDF protocol requires the greatest degree of certainty before they will confirm or deny any such action as this.
Of course that vacuum was immediately filled by Hamas accusations against Israel. These were gleefully taken up by the usual chorus of media, politicians and so-called military experts only too happy to condemn the IDF on the basis of zero evidence.
It was no surprise to me that a Gaza terrorist rocket should fall short. Something like 30% of all missiles launched by Islamic Jihad at Israel land inside Gaza and often hit their own people. In the last two major rounds of this conflict terrorist missiles killed more of their own people than Israelis.
As usual, much of the media has faithfully parroted Gaza Health Ministry casualty figures for this attack, failing to reflect that the ministry is controlled by Hamas. Looking at footage of this incident it seems likely the numbers would have been far lower than the hundreds claimed. That also conforms to standard Hamas practice. Let us hope it was an exaggeration and, although a tragic incident whatever the figures we should not forget that this missile was intended to kill innocent Israeli civilians.