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Peace and Conflict

Palestinian rocket misfire hits hospital | Update 18th October 2023

Palestinian rocket misfire hits hospital via BICom

1. Palestinian rocket misfire hits hospital

What happened: The IDF has presented evidence that a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad misfired and hit a hospital inside Gaza.

  • Palestinian sources said hundreds of people died in the explosion.
  • In the immediate aftermath, leaders across the Arab word accused Israel of hitting the hospital.
  • Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas declared three days of national mourning to mark what he described as “genocide.”
  • As Israel was blamed for the strike, the Israeli embassy in Jordan was attacked, as well as the US embassy in Lebanon. Palestinians attacked Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.   
  • According to the IDF, “an analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit. Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.”
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu, said, “the entire world should know: it was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children.” 
  • Overall, the IDF has continued to strike dozens of military targets in the Gaza Strip including, “operational command centres, a number of terrorist staging grounds, anti-tank missile and rocket launchers, military infrastructure, as well as military infrastructure located on top of Hamas terror tunnels.”
  • Palestinian sources said Ayman Nofal, the head Hamas military wing in Central Gaza was killed yesterday.
  • The IDF also targeted and killed another two senior Hamas operatives: Muhammad Awdallah - commander of the anti-tank missile system in Gaza City - and Akram Hijazi, from the Hamas naval forces. According to the IDF he was also an arms dealer and responsible for directing terror attacks on Israel.
  • Hezbollah has continued low intensity attacks on Israel’s northern border. An anti-tank missile was fired near Moshav Shetula last night, four IDF soldiers were injured. IDF artillery returned fire to the source.

Context: In general and in all previous rounds of rocket fire emanating from Gaza, over 10 per cent of the rockets misfired and fell inside Gaza, killing innocent Palestinians.

  • Ahead of President Biden’s visit, there is speculation that the US is orchestrating a creative solution for Gaza in coordination with Israel and their Arab allies.
  • The explosion at the hospital appears to have knocked this off the agenda, with Biden’s summit with the Arab leaders now cancelled.
  • Israel is focused on military targets and goes to unprecedented lengths to avoid civilian casualties.
  • Nofal is the highest-ranking Hamas official killed since the beginning of the war. Israel had previously targeted him for assassination in 2014.
  • Nofal was considered one of Israel’s top five targets, the others include:
    • Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas inside Gaza.
    • Muhammad Deif , the head of the military branch who has survived several assassination attempts.
    • Tawfik Abu Naim, the head of the security apparatus.
    • Vahi Moshtaha, Sinwar's senior adviser.
  • Within the Hamas’s military wing, there are three more senior commanders who are being targeted following Nofal:
    • Marwan Issa, Deif's deputy and the coordinator between the military and political wings.
    • Ahmed Ahandor, commander of the northern Gaza Strip.
    • Muhammad Sinwar (Yahia's brother), commander of the southern Gaza Strip and one of Gilad Shalit's kidnappers.
  • Two additional targets for elimination are the organisation's brigade commanders:
    • Muhammad Shabana, commander of the Rafah Brigade.
    • Eaz al-Din Haddad, commander of the Gaza City Brigade.
    • The pair replaced veteran division commanders who were eliminated in previous rounds in recent years.
    • The IDF continues to encourage Gazan civilians to move to a safe zone in southern Gaza. Israel, alongside international partners, is exploring efforts to create a humanitarian aid corridor.
    • There have so far been six anti-tank missiles attacks from Lebanon over the last few days, in addition to two rockets that were fired, but only one crossed into Israel.  

Looking ahead: President Biden arrives in Israel this morning, for an unprecedented visit with the country at war. 

  • He is only expected to stay a few hours and will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog.
  • He is also expected to attend the war cabinet meeting. (For more comments on Biden’s visit see Israeli media summary below).  
  • Speculation continues if and when the IDF will launch a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
  • It is also anticipated that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will visit Israel in the days ahead.