Hamas massively inflated the death toll of Tuesday’s blast near the Gaza Strip’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, as it tried to pin the incident on the Israeli military, a European intelligence official told the Agence France-Presse.
“There weren’t 200 or even 500 deaths. More likely between 10 and 50,” the anonymous source, told the news agency.
Gaza health authorities, which Hamas controls, claimed on Tuesday that the blast in Gaza City killed 471 Palestinians. The terror group immediately blamed Israel, accusing the Israel Defense Forces of deliberately striking the hospital.
In response to Hamas’s accusations, violence erupted around the region, as angry protesters gathered in front of Israeli diplomatic missions.
Israel presented conclusive evidence on Wednesday that a faulty Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket struck the area near the hospital. No Israeli air force, ground or naval attacks were carried out in that area at the time of the blast, said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that the Pentagon confirmed based on available evidence that 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 visited Israel on Wednesday to show support for Jerusalem’s war effort against Hamas.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council, told NBC News on Wednesday 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.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Thursday slammed journalists for taking claims by Hamas officials at “face value.”
“I saw a number of reports from the very early days that took Hamas’s word at face value—the word of a terrorist organization,” Miller said.
“I don’t mind people treating our claims skeptically. Everyone has a right to do that. We stand up here every day and defend them, but I would hope that everyone who is watching what’s happening would not take claims from a terrorist organization at face value,” added the spokesman.