October 18, 2023 | Policy Brief

How Palestinian Terrorists Yet Again Killed Palestinians, Lied to the Media

October 18, 2023 | Policy Brief

How Palestinian Terrorists Yet Again Killed Palestinians, Lied to the Media

Israel once again stands falsely accused of killing Palestinian civilians, this time by bombing a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday. However, the responsibility lies with a misfired rocket launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has a lengthy history of killing Gazans with its own projectiles.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as Hamas quickly blamed Israel after the attack. However, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stated on X that an analysis of IDF operational systems indicated “an enemy rocket barrage” toward Israel passed “in the vicinity of the hospital when it was hit.”

He noted that several intelligence sources indicated that the incident was caused when one of the rockets misfired and exploded. Hagari told reporters that radar detected rocket fire originating from Gaza at the time of the explosion and that intercepted communications between militant groups implicated Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel’s critics should have exercised caution before they accepted the Palestinian version of events. After all, Hamas controls Gaza’s Ministry of Health and frequently exaggerates the number of casualties. In addition, Hamas’ Ministry of Health does not distinguish between terrorist and civilian casualties.

In a visit to Israel today, President Joe Biden rightly blamed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the rocket attack. “I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza,” said Biden. “Based on the information we have seen to date, it appears the result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza. The United States unequivocally stands for the protection of civilian life during conflict, and I grieve, I truly grieve for the families who were killed or wounded by this tragedy.”

The attack on the hospital fits a pattern. According to IDF estimates, during Operation Breaking Dawn in 2022, at least 15 out of approximately 51 Palestinians dead were killed by Palestinian rockets that landed in the coastal strip. By contrast, Israel killed 11 Palestinians despite the IDF’s self-imposed restrictive rules of engagement designed to limit these casualties. The remainder of the deaths involved Palestinian terrorists killed by Israeli forces.

These same estimates indicate that of the approximately 1,100 projectiles launched by the terrorist group, roughly 200 rockets — or 18 percent of all strikes — malfunctioned or otherwise fell short of their target. Thanks to Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, no Israelis perished from Palestinian rockets.

This self-inflicted damage provoked a response from Hamas. Shortly after the conflict ended, Hamas issued strict rules on Gaza media coverage, prohibiting Gaza-based outlets from reporting on Palestinians killed by Palestinian rockets or military operations. Hamas also required reporters to blame Israel. The terrorist group later rescinded these rules after protests from international media, which depend heavily on Palestinian reporters and translators. But the implicit threat to local and foreign media was clear for future coverage.

The misfired rockets reflect a broader effort by terrorist groups to use Palestinian civilians as human shields. Islamic Jihad and Hamas, as well as the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, position rocket silos near schools, homes, mosques, and hospitals using human shields, including children.

Though the use of human shields is prohibited under American law and United Nations resolutions, Palestinians terrorist groups are adept at using civilians to force the IDF to call off strikes against rocket launchers and other weaponry targeting Israeli civilians — or bear harsh international condemnation for Palestinian civilian casualties.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas commit double war crimes, killing Israeli civilians, showing reckless disregard for Palestinian civilians, and lying to international media. These admissions are well-documented and should now render hollow their attempt, after the explosion at the Gaza hospital, to deny they had inflicted Palestinian casualties.

In a similar vein, the rockets fired by Palestinians lack guidance systems, instead being designed for fire-and-forget saturation attacks hoping to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors. Still, even the simplest of rockets need to be test-fired, and here is another weakness facing the terrorists of Gaza: While they have launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea, they do not have monitoring and telemetry systems capable of providing accurate data on impact points that would help extrapolate range and accuracy.

The international community and media must not rush to blame Israel for every attack on civilians. Instead, they should wait for the facts to emerge — and encourage accountability when Palestinian terrorists kill both Palestinian and Israelis.

Mark Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). For more analysis from Mark and FDD, please subscribe HERE. Follow him on X @mdubowitz. Follow FDD on X @FDD. FDD is a Washington, DC-based nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.


Arab Politics Disinformation Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics