كندا: إسرائيل لم تقصف مستشفى الأهلي العربي في غزة
رويترز/22 تشرين الأول/2023
أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الوطني الكندية إن إسرائيل ليست المسؤولة عن قصف المستشفى الأهلي العربي في غزة. وأضافت في بيان أن “التحليل الذي أجرته قيادة المخابرات التابعة للقوات الكندية على نحو مستقل يشير بدرجة عالية من الثقة إلى أن إسرائيل لم تقصف المستشفى الأهلي في 17 تشرين الأول 2023”. وقالت الوزارة إن القصف نجم على الأرجح عن صاروخ أطلق من غزة وأخطأ هدفه وذلكبناء على تحليل لتقارير سرية ومفتوحة المصدر. والنتائج التي توصلت إليها كندا تطابق النتائج التي خلصت إليها فرنسا والولايات المتحدة أيضاً. وأوضحت كندا أن تقييمها يسترشد إلى تحليل الأضرار التي لحقت بمجمع المستشفى والمباني المجاورة والمنطقة المحيطة بالمستشفى بالإضافة إلى نمط الطيران للذخيرة القادمة. وقال مسؤولون فلسطينيون إن 471 شخصاً قتلوا في الانفجار الذي استهدف المستشفى الأهلي العربي (المعمداني) يوم الثلثاء. واتهمت وزارة الصحة في غزة إسرائيل بالمسؤولية عن الهجوم في حين قالت إسرائيل إن الانفجار نجم عن صاروخ أطلقه نشطاء وأخطأ هدفه.
Israel did not bomb that hospital, according to the latest intelligence. It’s a reminder that in war, all sides engage in propaganda. Charles R. Davis/Business Insider/October 22, 2023
Israel was blamed for bombing a hospital in Gaza. The media treated its denial with skepticism.
But it turned out it was not an Israeli airstrike as many assumed.
The incident serves as a reminder that, in war, all sides engage in propaganda.
If a tree falls in a forest, and no reporter is there to witness it, the first task for the seeker of truth is to establish: Did the tree even fall down at all?
On Tuesday, most international news outlets — and, by extension, most news consumers — were reasonably convinced that a hospital in Gaza had just been destroyed in an explosion, killing many of its patients.
Most were also reasonably convinced that Israel was responsible, its denials duly reported but with the knowledge that only one party to the conflict had the firepower and means to deliver such destruction, along with a record of targeting such facilities in the past.
“Israel’s bombing of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza killed 500 civilians,” declared an emergency alert from Genocide Watch, a group that tracks ethnic cleansing and campaigns of mass murder (and which has accused Hamas and the Israeli government of engaging in both, to varying degrees). “The hospital bombing was a clear war crime.”By Wednesday, what became clear was that, while narrowly accurate, the most truthful part of Tuesday’s reporting was the attribution: that a hospital was destroyed and hundreds of people killed, according to Hamas, a terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip and its various ministries, including the one that reports the Palestinian death toll. The photos that emerged in daylight, of a hospital intact and a parking lot with a crater far too small to be from an Israeli airstrike, called into question everything that most reporters and their readers had taken for granted — and lent credence to the earlier, adamant denials from the Israel Defense Forces. A senior European intelligence official also said the actual death toll was likely between 10 and 50 people, while an initial US assessment placed the number at the “low end of the 100-to-300 spectrum.”
There is good reason not to trust the IDF. Last year, in just one example, the Israeli military killed an American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, who was reporting outside the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, initially claiming she was surrounded by armed militants and potentially killed by Palestinian gunmen. But video and eyewitness testimony contradicted both claims. Evidence suggested that Israeli troops were the ones who opened fire and that they deliberately targeted the journalists.
What also emerged on Thursday, however, was a possibility that some could not process: One, that the IDF was telling the truth, this time, when it blamed the explosion near the Ahli Arab Hospital on a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad; and two, that the international media had actually challenged the assertions of Israel, a Western ally, and in this case deferred to the claims of Hamas authorities in Gaza.
“Just imagine the headlines if Putin had bombed a hospital in Kharkiv, killing 500 people, many of them kids, and then blamed it on the Ukrainians,” Yanis Vaourfakis, a leftist economist and Greek politician, posted on social media. “Nothing makes Vlad happier than watching the West’s touching attempts to overtake his callous cynicism.”Russia has bombed hospitals in Ukraine, as well as Syria, and its denials have been viewed as dubious for a simple reason: If something falls from the sky and explodes, it is generally right to suspect the party with air supremacy. And that is what happened Tuesday, Israeli claims treated with a similar, earned skepticism — even before the bombing of a hospital was an established fact.
The knee-jerk response also went the other way. Before the IDF issued a denial, Hananya Naftali, a right-wing Israeli influencer, assumed Israel was responsible — and immediately attempted to justify it: A “Hamas terrorist based inside a hospital” had been attacked, he posted on social media, killing a “number of terrorists.” In this, he was indeed no different than commentators who have excused Russia’s atrocities: projecting absolute certainty that whatever happened, despite the little we know, was for a damn good reason. Many, then, were embarrassed by what is objectively good albeit startling news: that a hospital in Gaza, reported as leveled, was still standing — and not bombed by the IDF at all. That’s a conclusion backed by US intelligence and supported by independent analysts, including a former UN war crimes investigator and researchers at Bellingcat, who noted that the damage seen in photographs shared the next morning was not consistent with the area being struck in an Israeli airstrike. A French intelligence assessment, made public Friday, also rejected claims of “an Israeli strike,” saying there was “nothing to indicate” the hospital was hit by the IDF this week. “The most probable hypothesis is that a Palestinian rocket exploded with a charge of about five kilos,” it said. The Associated Press, too, concluded — after an analysis of video and input from “experts with specialties in open-source intelligence, geolocation and rocketry” — that the most likely cause of the blast near the hospital was a misfired rocket, not an Israeli strike.
Members of the media (and others) have lessons to learn here.
First, the fog of war, paired with social media, is a recipe for inaccuracy. We should all slow down and be more inclined to let the fog lift before broadcasting an unverified claim. While some may see this week’s reporting as the product of an anti-Israel bias, the truth is likely more mundane: No news outlet wants to be the last one to cover the most important story of the day. Second, while the IDF’s statements should continue to be viewed with healthy skepticism, the official sources in Gaza clearly warrant at least as much scrutiny, controlled as they are by a designated terrorist organization. Hamas has an incentive to blame anything bad that happens in Gaza on the Israeli state and has shown itself willing to fabricate a war crime — claiming a hospital found standing on Wednesday was destroyed the night before. If it wasn’t absolutely clear before, it is today: The local health ministry, which rushed out a now seemingly implausible body count, answers to this extremist group. Acknowledging this is not to deny that Palestinians are suffering under Israeli bombardment. People on the ground, with no connection to Hamas, can attest to this, and the IDF would only dispute who is ultimately to blame. That points to the last lesson from all this for partisans of either side and other news consumers: What happens in war will not always reaffirm our prior convictions. Assumptions should always be questioned, and truths acknowledged — convenient or not.
Canada has ‘high degree of confidence’ Israel didn’t strike hospital in Gaza: Blair The Canadian Press/October 22/ 2023
OTTAWA — Defence Minister Bill Blair says that after an independent review by the Canadian military, Ottawa has a “high degree of confidence” that Israel did not strike the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday. A statement from Blair says Canada believes the more likely scenario is that the strike was caused by an errant rocket fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The pronouncement from Ottawa comes days after the United States said its own review found that Israel was not responsible, with President Joe Biden saying during a visit to Israel that he was confident the “other team” bore responsibility.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that his government was taking “all necessary steps” to form its own understanding of what happened. The hospital blast on Oct. 17, which the Gaza Health Ministry said killed hundreds of people, quickly became a flashpoint in the war. Hamas, which Canada designates as a terrorist group, quickly blamed an Israeli military airstrike for the explosion, but Israel subsequently released images that it said proved it was caused by a misfire from Gaza.
Israel welcomes Canada’s conclusion that Israel didn’t strike hospital in Gaza The Canadian Press/Sunday, October 22, 2023
Israel is “pleased” that Canada has joined the United States and France in believing that an explosion at a Gaza City hospital last week was fired by an errant rocket from within the Gaza Strip, the Israeli ambassador in Ottawa said Sunday. “The loss of life at the al-Ahli Arab hospital was a tragedy that should horrify any human being and it is a reminder of the double war crimes against Palestinians and Israelis that are committed by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” Iddo Moed said in a statement. The rocket fired at the hospital Oct. 17 became a new flashpoint in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas as both sides blamed each other for the tragedy. Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair issued a statement late Saturday night saying an independent analysis by the Canadian Forces gives the government a “high degree of confidence” that the rocket did not come from Israel. Canada was slower than some of its allies to reach that conclusion. During a visit to Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, US. President Joe Biden said American defence intelligence showed the rocket came from within Gaza, and France said its military had reached the same conclusion on Oct. 20. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Blair on Oct. 17 to have the Canadian military conduct its own assessment. On Oct. 19 he said Canada had seen some “preliminary evidence” but would take the “necessary time to look carefully” and work with allies to reach a firm conclusion. The Canadian military assessment delivered its first report Saturday, and Blair and Trudeau were both briefed on the findings before Blair made the conclusion public just before 10 p.m. Canada has not yet assigned specific blame for the source of the rocket. Moed said he believes further analysis from Canada will also conclude the rocket was fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The PIJ is the second-largest armed group in Gaza, whose sole objective is a military victory over Israel to establish an Islamic State across all of Israel, along with the West Bank and Gaza. Israel blames the PIJ for the rocket, and American officials told the New York Times their preliminary evidence also pointed to the PIJ. “As Canada provides further updates, Israel is assured that other findings uncovered by the Israeli Defense Forces, including the culpability of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, will be identified by Canada as the source of this war crime,” Moed said. The latest escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza erupted on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants, who control the Gaza Strip, launched a multi-pronged attack on Israel from the air and the ground. At least 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 people — including children — were taken hostage by Hamas, which Canada has designated as a terrorist organization since 2002. Israel responded with force, cutting off power and supplies to the two million people who live in the Gaza Strip and launching its own rocket attacks into the area. The humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorated quickly and Canada was among the countries who backed Israel’s right to defend itself while calling for Israel and Egypt, which controls access to Gaza from the south, to allow in aid.
Both Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas took control of the small strip of land in 2007. The Palestinian death toll is now estimated to be over 4,600 people. Aid began moving slowly into Gaza from Egypt Saturday including fuel, food and medical supplies. That same day, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced an additional $50 million in funding for humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip and reiterated Canada’s request for aid to be allowed into the territory. Joly and International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen are also in Cairo this weekend for what is being billed as a peace summit. The ministers were expected to discuss efforts to help some 400 Canadians leave Gaza. The Canadian government has helped 33 people out of the West Bank and nearly 1,600 people out of Israel since the conflict began, with a final military evacuation flight expected out of Tel Aviv on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2023.