Israel Denies Hamas’ Claim It Struck Hospital, But Israel Has Said Incorrect Things Before

On Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House,” NBC News Foreign Correspondent Raf Sanchez reported on the explosion at a hospital in Gaza City by repeating the claims from the Hamasrun Palestinian Health Ministry that the hospital was hit by an Israeli strike before giving Israel’s side that it was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket, which he caveated by stating that Israel “is not providing any evidence to back up its claims that this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. They are citing intelligence that they have not yet made public.” The damage isn’t what you’d normally see with Palestinian rockets, and “there are instances in the past where the Israeli military has said things in the immediate aftermath of an incident that have turned out not to be true in the long run.”

Sanchez said, “The Palestinian Health Ministry is saying the Al-Ahli hospital, which is in Gaza City, in the northern half of Gaza, took a direct strike from an Israeli aircraft. They are saying, at minimum, hundreds of people are dead at this hospital. This strike — or the explosion, let’s say, the explosion seems to have taken place in a courtyard in front of the hospital where families were gathering, believing — fatally, as it turned out — that they would be safe if they were within hospital grounds. Now, as you said, the Israeli military is saying that, at the time this hospital was hit, Palestinian Islamic Jihad — which is a smaller terrorist group that operates alongside Hamas in Gaza, was in the midst of firing a barrage of rockets into Israel — and the Israeli military says, ‘Intelligence from multiple sources [that] we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.’ So, Nicolle, this is an absolutely classic fog of war situation and we should be really clear, NBC News is not able to get into Gaza right now. The Israeli border is sealed, the Egyptian border is sealed, our teams are not able to get there and to verify this directly.”

He continued, “We should also say that the Israeli military, at this point, is not providing any evidence to back up its claims that this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. They are citing intelligence that they have not yet made public. We should also say that this kind of death toll is not what you normally associate with Palestinian rockets. These rockets are dangerous, they are deadly. They do not tend to kill hundreds of people in a single strike in the way that Israeli high explosives — especially these bunker buster bombs that are used to target these Hamas tunnels under Gaza City — do have the potential to kill hundreds of people. And we should say finally that there are instances in the past where the Israeli military has said things in the immediate aftermath of an incident that have turned out not to be true in the long run. And the one example I’ll give you is that when the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military initially said that she was killed by Palestinian gunmen, and it was only months and months later that they admitted that it was likely an Israeli soldier who fired the fatal shot. So, we are dealing with a classic loss of life situation — a classic fog of war situation here.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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