October 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Intel Confident Israel Did Not Attack Gaza Hospital

October 26, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S. Intel Confident Israel Did Not Attack Gaza Hospital

Latest Developments

U.S. intelligence officials said on October 24 they have determined with “high confidence” that Israel was not responsible for the October 17 attack on al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. More than a week after the blast, likely caused by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket, allegations of Israeli culpability continue to circulate. The disappearance of all traces of the rocket that struck the hospital — in territory controlled by Hamas — complicates efforts to determine the weapon’s origin and raises questions about Hamas’ obstruction of potential investigations.

Expert Analysis

“With the negative press Hamas received in the wake of its murder of over 1,400 Israelis, the terrorist group needed a major event to reframe the narrative. The hospital blast provided the perfect opportunity to blame Israel for a mass-casualty incident. Many journalists spread Hamas propaganda inflating the death toll and blaming Israel.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

“Building resilience and cultivating media literacy are important defensive mechanisms, but Israel must go on the offensive and spread the truth about Hamas’ lies. Information and psychological warfare will be critical to winning this war, and Israel must ensure that it secures information superiority in this psychological battlefield.” — Ivana Stradner, FDD Research Fellow

Hamas Used Hospital Attack to Shift Blame to Israel

Many world leaders expressed horror at Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7. The hospital attack helped Hamas sap newfound global sympathy for Israel and cast the Palestinians as the victims. Media outlets cited the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry’s statements blaming Israel for the attack and estimating a death toll of nearly 500.

History of Inflating Death Tolls

The U.S. intelligence community estimated that 100 to 300 people died at the hospital, while a European official put that figure at below 50. The exaggerated death toll released by Hamas is reminiscent of the 2002 Battle of Jenin, in which Palestinian officials initially claimed 3,000 deaths and then lowered their tally to 500. An independent report placed the number at around 50, with half of the fatalities being terrorists involved in the fighting.

The Hamas Disinformation Campaign Against Israel Is Also Brutal,” by David May and Ivana Stradner

Hamas Network Spreads Dangerous Disinformation,” FDD Flash Brief

Inside Hamas’ propaganda game,” by Joe Truzman

Archbishop Warns of Gaza Hospital ‘Blood Libel,’” FDD Flash Brief


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