WASHINGTON — US intelligence shows Israel was not to blame for a strike on a Gaza hospital, the White House said yesterday, as President Joe Biden said it appeared to be the result of a misfired rocket fired by a “terrorist group.”
Biden has backed Israel’s insistence that it did not carry out Tuesday’s hospital strike that killed several hundred people. The Palestinian militant group Hamas says Israel was responsible.
“While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on social media.
The Senate Intelligence Committee echoed Biden’s view, after reviewing intelligence on the attack.
“Based on this information, we feel confident that the explosion was the result of a failed rocket launch by militant terrorists and not the result of an Israeli airstrike,” Democratic chairman Mark Warner and Republican vice chairman Marco Rubio said in a statement.
The US intelligence included satellite and infrared data showing the launch of a projectile from militant positions inside Gaza, the New York Times reported, citing US officials.
Israeli officials had supplied Washington with intercepted communications between Hamas officials, while US intelligence had also looked at open source video of the launch, it said.
Biden, in Tel Aviv during a short visit to show solidarity to Israel after the October 7 Hamas attacks, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it seemed the strike was “done by the other team”.
The US president later gave a firmer attribution of blame, saying that “based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears as a result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.”
He said the assessment relied on “data I was shown by my defence department.”
There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon.
The hospital strike killed 471 people, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry, and has sparked anger across the Arab and Muslim world.
Hamas said after the explosion on Tuesday that the cause was an Israeli air strike.
Israel has said the Islamic Jihad militant group had caused the explosion with a misfired rocket.
Israel has been carrying out a campaign of air and artillery strikes on Gaza since the Hamas attack when some 1,400 people were shot, stabbed or burnt to death, and 199 taken hostage.
More than 3,400 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on the enclave since then, according to health officials in Gaza. — AFP