The Story of Israel’s Killing of 500 Palestinians at the Baptist Hospital in Gaza

October 19, 2023

Hananya Naftali said on X, "The Israeli air force struck a Hamas terrorist base inside a hospital in Gaza. A multiple number of terrorists dead."
A woman reacts a day after Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was hit by Israel in Gaza City, Gaza on October 18, 2023. Photo by Anadolu Images


n October 17, 2023, an Israeli air strike targeted thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter at the al-Ahli Baptist Arab Hospital in Gaza City, established in 1904 by a Christian group. The attack shocked the world, including Israel’s Western allies, such as France and Canada, which called it “unacceptable.”

Protests broke out across the Middle East, in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, and in some Western cities such as Ontario and Stockholm, following the Israeli massacre. Israel found itself in a difficult position, claiming that the attack was not an Israeli air strike, but a Palestinian rocket fired by Islamic Jihad.

Thousands of Palestinians from northern Gaza and Gaza City have sought refuge in hospitals after Israel launched a massive bombing campaign against Palestinian neighborhoods starting on October 7, following the Hamas incursion across the border that killed 1,400 Israelis and captured 200 others.

Israeli army takes responsibility, then repudiates

Israeli army spokesperson for the Arab media, Avichay Adraee, initially said on his official Telegram account that the Israeli army had targeted a number of terrorists in the hospital, a statement he later deleted after the number of casualties was revealed. Israel targeted the vicinity of the hospital three days ago and warned the hospital, along with other hospitals in Gaza, to evacuate.

Hananya Naftali, who is known to be close to Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on X, “The Israeli air force struck a Hamas terrorist base inside a hospital in Gaza. A multiple number of terrorists dead.” Naftali deleted his tweet after the Palestinian death toll from the attack soared, fearing international retaliation and condemnation.

Israel released three videos to try to prove it did not bomb the Baptist Hospital in Gaza. Two of the videos showed no explosion and the third was from 2022.

Governments such as France and the United States used terms such as “blast” or “explosion” to avoid directly accusing Israel of being behind it.

The change of Israeli narrative

The Israeli military said radar systems had detected Palestinians firing rockets into Israel at the same time as the hospital attack. These radar systems failed to identify hundreds of Hamas fighters who crossed into Israel 10 days ago.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a telephone conversation they claimed was between two Hamas members accusing the Palestinian Islamic Jihad of being behind the attack. Aside from the poor production and the accents of the two people, which do not sound Gazan, Israeli army propaganda seems to be at work.

The shifting Israeli narrative is reminiscent of Israel’s evasion of responsibility after the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May 2022. The Israeli army almost admitted to shooting her five months later, without explicitly saying so.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who visited Israel on October 18, 2023, said, “Based on what I’ve seen, it was done by the other team.” Biden’s statement brings to mind the photo claiming to be of “beheaded Israeli babies” which he circulated at the beginning of the escalation that was later proven to be fake.

Hamas issued a statement that read, “this heinous crime was committed against innocent Palestinian civilians while taking the hospital as a shelter from the flames of the Israeli brutal aggression.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem said “In a solemn observance of a global day of fasting and prayers for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the harrowing conflict, Christians stood united in the Holy Land. However, this day of reflection was marred by a brutal attack on our Al Ahli Anglican Episcopal Hospital in Gaza during the Israeli airstrikes there.”

Palestinians in Gaza know in their hearts that it was Israel that killed the 500 Palestinians at the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. The Palestinian factions in Gaza don’t have destructive rockets that spread death the way Israeli ones do. Moreover, rockets are fired into Israel from the west to the east, not the other way around. A video of the moment the Israeli missile fell on the hospital shows it came from the sky and it sounded like Israeli strikes on Gaza.

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