An errant rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists likely killed six staff members of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) earlier this week, the Israel Defense Forces concluded following an internal probe.
“On October 17, at 15:06, UNRWA stated that six of its staff members were killed in a strike on a UNRWA school and shelter in the Al-Muazi area in Gaza,” the IDF said on Wednesday.
However, “a comprehensive internal investigation revealed that the IDF did not operate in the area between 10:00 and 16:30 that day. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ], however, fired rockets from that location during the time of the explosion,” the army revealed.
“It is highly likely that a Hamas or PIJ misfire caused the damage to the school,” concluded the report.
In a statement from the Jordanian capital of Amman, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on Tuesday accused the Jewish state of hitting the school “during Israeli forces airstrikes and bombardment on the Gaza Strip.”
“This is outrageous, and it again shows a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians,” Lazzarini charged, adding: “At least 4,000 people have taken refuge in this UNRWA school turned shelter. They had and still have nowhere else to go.”
‘Rockets have been causing harm to Gazan civilians’
According to IDF data released earlier on Wednesday, rockets fired at Israel by Gaza-based terrorist organizations are increasingly falling short inside the Strip.
On Tuesday, some 12.7% of all projectiles launched by Hamas and PIJ struck in the Strip, compared to just over 6% the previous day.
Since the start of the war on Oct. 7, some 7.52% of rockets failed to reach Israeli territory, the military said, adding that it detected 450 misfires that led to “death and destruction in Gaza.”
“Rockets have been causing harm to Gazan civilians, in addition to Israeli civilians,” the IDF said. “Hamas is continuing to use the residents of the Gaza Strip as human shields and does not hesitate to risk the lives of Gazan civilians for the purpose of attacking Israelis.”
On Tuesday evening, an explosion rocked the courtyard of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. Hamas sources claimed it killed 471 Palestinians. Hamas and much of the Arab world immediately blamed Israel, accusing the IDF of deliberately striking the hospital.
Yet on Wednesday, Israel presented conclusive evidence proving a faulty PIJ rocket caused the explosion. No Israeli air force, ground or naval attacks were being carried out in the area at the time of the blast, said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
U.S. President Joe Biden and the Pentagon have confirmed that based on available evidence, the explosion was caused by an errant PIJ rocket.
“I’m deeply saddened and outraged by the hospital blast, which appears to be done by the other team—not you,” said Biden, who landed in Israel on Wednesday to show support for Jerusalem’s war effort against Hamas.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told NBC News that “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.”