Israel has been blamed for the bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital in northern Gaza. At the time of publication, the attack had killed hundreds of people.
Israel has claimed it was a Palestinian rocket that hit the hospital. But many people are accusing Israel of lying – and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was. Because in 2014, it used the exact same arguments when it killed dozens of people at a UN shelter.
Al-Ahli hospital: Israel’s ever-changing story
Israel has repeatedly changed its story over what was clearly its attack on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital. In the immediate aftermath, media advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu Hananya Naftali tweeted that it was an Israeli airstrike that hit the hospital. However, he then quickly deleted it:
Netanyahu's social media advisor tweeted this immediately after the Israeli strike on the Baptist Hospital in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/nI2HyCuq3f
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) October 17, 2023
Then, some Israeli commentators as well the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) were that positing it might have been a failed Hamas rocket:
Even the IDF spokesperson has a hard time keeping up:
“I checked with the Gaza Division and we do not yet have all the details. There are many failed launches and false reports by Hamas.”
(He and Gaza Division know whether the IDF targeted the hospital. He’s deflecting.)
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) October 17, 2023
After this, the IDF began to claim it was a rogue rocket from the group Islamic Jihad. However, even this claim looked suspicious – given the IDF shared video as evidence which it then had to delete, because people noticed it had been filmed after the attack:
Israeli officials edited this tweet to remove the video, which it implied was proof that the Gaza hospital was struck by Islamic terrorists, after it was pointed out that the footage was time-stamped at least 40 minutes after the strike took place. pic.twitter.com/d4a4rUvrhJ
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 17, 2023
However, people were not buying the Israeli narrative – including some corporate media journalists:
Seeing lots of reporting saying "both sides" say the other caused the hospital bombing.
If you're not making it clear that Palestinian rockets haven't historically been able to kill more than one or two at a time, you're not doing this right https://t.co/kEmsmvhC2d
— Adam Elmahrek (@adamelmahrek) October 17, 2023
“It is hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli air strike, or several air strikes, because when we’ve seen rockets being fired out of Gaza, we never see explosions of that scale” pic.twitter.com/8609kyA8cF https://t.co/OFMjRkJCLL
— أبو عمّار (@MaajidNawaz) October 17, 2023
BREAKING: MSNBC REPORTER CONFIRMS ISRAEL BOMBED AL-AHLI BAPTIST HOSPITAL AND CAUSED THE MASSACRE
He showed several incidents that the IOF Israelis have done acts then denied their involvement.
Expect MSNBC to backtrack pic.twitter.com/fuU2xy6uRs
— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) October 17, 2023
As of 2pm on Wednesday 18 October, the IDF was sticking to its line that a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket hit the Al-Ahli Hospital, saying it had plenty of evidence for this claim. However, replies to these tweets showed that people still weren’t buying it.
The problem with Israel’s claims is that it has form on lying about atrocities it’s committed – and then backtracking once the initial outrage has passed:
Journalists should remember that Israel's first response after they killed their colleague Shireen Abu-Akleh was to say Palestinians shot her. This is part of a consistent Israeli military information damage control strategy in response to such events.
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) October 17, 2023
A perfect example of this was a similar incident during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014.
The Beit Hanoun massacre: using the textbook again
UN workers had asked the IDF for a window to evacuate staff and civilians which they effectively refused to grant. The massacre happened when mortar hit people waiting in the car park to leave. Immediately, Israel said it was a Hamas missile that killed and injured people. However, it eventually admitted that it was an IDF mortar that hit the school. Yet even when Israel did confess, it still tried to lie. As Relief Web wrote:
The Israeli military alleged that Hamas fighters had “operated adjacent to” the school. After coming under fire with anti-tank missiles, soldiers responded by “firing several mortars in their direction.” The military said a “single errant mortar” hit the school courtyard, which was “completely empty” – a claim disputed by seven witnesses who separately spoke to Human Rights Watch.
Witnesses described at least four shells striking in and around the compound within a few minutes…
So, we’re seeing a textbook response from Israel over the Al-Ahli hospital – the one it always uses. However, what we’re also seeing is the same, wicked manipulation of the situation from Israeli spokespeople.
Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, was on Sky News in the aftermath of the Al-Ahli attack. Anchor Anna Botting asked Regev “how many civilian buildings” Israel had destroyed in Gaza. Regev said:
We don’t target civilian structures. That is incorrect what you’ve said. We don’t target civilian structures…
Botting immediately came back at Regev:
So what are those high-rise buildings we’ve seen destroyed?
They are Hamas targets.
Anna Botting:Are you saying every image we see on our television screens has been fabricated from somewhere else?
Israeli Govt:We don't target civilians
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) October 17, 2023
Botting seemed disgusted by Regev’s denials:
Regev: "To allow these butchers to kill our people & turn the other cheek? Would you do that in Britain?"
"This is not about Britain. This is about what youre doing, the areas.. which have been flattened. Even in Khan Younis where youve told people to flee there are air strikes" pic.twitter.com/UDD59T09L2
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 17, 2023
Sadly, Regev’s lying and Israel’s wider manipulation of the narrative is the same MO they had in 2014 – as a Newsnight interview with Regev at the time showed.
Regev: cold and calculated
Former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis grilled Regev over the Beit Hanoun Elementary school massacre – and nine years ago, he was using the exact same script we saw in the aftermath of the Al-Ahli bombing. He claimed, just as he did on 17 October 2023 to Sky News, that:
Israel does not want to see any civilian casualties in our operation – not one.
A visibly furious Maitlis, who had been pushing Regev already for nearly five minutes, at one point put it to Regev that:
But you said you were going to hit it. You hit it. You killed them. You knew there were children in that building.
Sorry, how do you know? The UN itself reported that there was Hamas rocket fire falling in Beit Hanoun…
We of course now know Regev was lying:
The echoes of 2014 with the Al-Ahli bombing are clear: a civilian building, which Israel had told to evacuate, then gets hit – and Israel immediately blames the Palestinians.
Israel: sociopaths and liars
Overall, at the time of publication, Israel was still denying responsibility for the Al-Ahli massacre – with US president Joe Biden reportedly agreeing. However, as journalist Ben Smoke said on Twitter:
do you think the people who spent the last few days telling hospitals they were going to bomb them might have been responsible for the bombing of a hospital?
just spitballing here but let’s not rule them out ey! https://t.co/gc9UDc8KVj
— Ben Smoke (@bencsmoke) October 17, 2023
The level of Israel’s dehumanisation of Palestinian people during this time has bordered on the sociopathic. Minutes after the attack on Al-Ahli Hospital, Israel’s national security minister tweeted:
As long as Hamas does not release the hostages in its hands – the only thing that needs to enter Gaza are hundreds of tons of explosives from the Air Force, not an ounce of humanitarian aid. [Translated from Hebrew via Google]
Israel has committed clear war crimes in Gaza – and has clear genocidal intent. For it to deny the Al-Ahli massacre is almost irrelevant at this point, because with its history of habitual lying, why would anyone – except its far-right, fascistic supporters – believe a word the Israeli government says?
Featured image via BBC Newsnight – YouTube
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