Updated: What happened at the Gaza Hospital and do Palestinian rockets “occasionally” misfire?

Hundreds of people sheltering at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City were reportedly killed in an explosion on Oct 17 that some have blamed on Israel, but which Israel says it can show was caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket. Indeed, as outlined below, IJ rockets have caused so much death and destruction in Gaza that Hamas has criticized the group and demanded they pay compensation to families of the dead.

Update: Israel has now presented strong evidence that the blast at the hospital was caused by an errant Islamic Jihad rocket which was launched from a cemetery directly behind the hospital — click here for the text of the briefing.

In addition, as seen by chance in a live al-Jazeera broadcast, the rocket broke up right after launch and, according to geo-location data, crashed into the hospital parking lot. Initial damage was caused by the exploding warhead, but because the rocket had just been launched most of its fuel was intact, causing an immediate and intense fire:

The IDF also shared an intercepted phone call between Hamas operatives, in which one tells the other the explosion was caused by an errant rocket, with the characteristic shrapnel cited as just one piece of the evidence:

Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad routinely slaughter innocent people, it should be no surprise that they also routinely lie to the world. The media should obviously be more skeptical about every claim they make.

Israeli strikes on terrorist targets in Gaza come in the wake of the horrific attack on Oct. 7 in southern Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in which more than 1300 Israelis were brutally murdered, the vast majority civilians including babies, with many women being raped first.

Covering the tragic situation at the Gaza hospital, the New York Times noted Israeli claims that an Islamic Jihad rocket caused the explosion and added:

In the past, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups, including Islamic Jihad, have occasionally malfunctioned and hit civilian neighborhoods.

In fact, it’s much more than occasionally – in the previous three major rocket attacks against Israel about 17% of Palestinian rockets hit in densely populated Gaza. And in the attacks in May 2023, where the vast majority of the missiles were fired by Islamic Jihad, almost 20% impacted in Gaza, often causing injuries and deaths.


Total Fired

Total Landing in Gaza

Percentage landing in Gaza

















The problem of errant Islamic Jihad rockets is so acute, the news site Al Monitor reported, that after the fighting in August 2022, Hamas angrily complained to IJ about their off-course missiles: Tempers flare between Hamas, Islamic Jihad.

An earlier article by Al Monitor about the same incidents, Gazans call for probe into Islamic Jihad missiles that killed civilians, reported that:

A resident of a nearby street told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “On Saturday, the second day of the military operation, at 9 p.m., we were startled by the sound of a huge explosion hitting the next street. My brothers and I rushed to see what happened. I saw people trying to extinguish a fire with water as they waited for the civil defense and ambulance cars to arrive. I saw a 12-meter-long missile that exploded horizontally. I thanked God that it did not explode vertically. Otherwise, a very big massacre would have ensued.”

He lamented, “Everyone knows that the missile that fell on Saturday was a local missile, but no one dares talk about it, especially to the media and the press, let alone name names. Here, there is no freedom of opinion and expression. There is no respect for others’ points of view, and whoever holds the PIJ responsible for the missiles that veered off course is deemed unpatriotic and a partner in Israeli crimes against us. Whoever they are, they would be arrested by the authorities and investigated. This is why no one would dare talk about this.”

There seems little question that in this case too, Gaza residents who want to tell the truth about deadly errant IJ missiles will be threatened or worse by Hamas.   

In those previous rounds of fighting, according to calculations by the present author, the errant missiles killed around 91 Palestinians, amounting to 36% of the Palestinian death toll in 2021, and killed around 27 Gaza residents, amounting to about half of the Palestinian death toll in 2022.

Something similar may well have happened at the hospital, and Israel has claimed in addition to video evidence it has intercepted communications proving that the hospital was hit by an IJ rocket. This article will be updated as the evidence comes in.

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