On October 18, Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City was hit by a missile. Initial reports from Hamas immediately attributed blame to Israel and claimed that 500 people had been killed. Even in a messy war, a strike on a hospital stands out as being an unsettling incident.
This incident led to intense global criticism of Israel. Arab foreign ministers, including those from countries with diplomatic relations with Israel, unanimously held the Israeli Defense Forces responsible. Several government ministers emphasized in their statements that 500 Palestinians had perished in the explosion.
On some campuses in the US, protesting students who supported the Palestinians waved signs declaring “Free Palestine” and “End the Occupation”. Anger spilled into the streets in the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan, and other parts of the region on Tuesday night, as popular outrage erupted over the purportedly high death toll claimed by Hamas in the Gaza explosion. Once again, the dire situation faced by Gaza citizens due to Israel’s actions was highlighted, with no reference made to the fact that Israel had been involuntarily drawn into the conflict by Hamas or the possibility that the unfortunate damage may have been an unintended consequence of the Israeli response to the Hamas assault on Israel.
However, those critics rushed to conclusions prematurely. Credible evidence from independent sources outside of Israel has determined that the missile incident was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket aimed at Israel, apparently fired from the hospital region. Thus, the responsibility for this tragic incident lies with the Islamic Jihad, not Israel.
Furthermore, the final number of casualties may be significantly lower than initially reported, 100-300. The initial high casualty count does not appear to be an honest mistake but rather a deliberate exaggeration intended to portray Israel in the worst possible light (and for something that it actually did not do). While the final lower number casualties are still a substantial loss, it becomes less significant when it’s clear that the presenting side is manipulating facts to serve a political agenda.
Some Western media outlets and government leaders in the US and Great Britain have corrected their previous criticism of Israel in light of this new information. However, with the exception of a few Gulf-based outlets, many pro-Palestinian supporters, including Middle Eastern countries, have yet to retract their accusations against Israel. For instance, the king of Jordan declined to host President Biden during his recent visit to the Middle East because the US president rejected the Hamas version of events. Those claiming to use facts as a basis for formulating their opinions should be upset by the conspicuous absence of criticism directed at the Islamic Jihad for their role in this incident. In my perspective, it appears that the primary motivation for many on the other side, is to seek vulnerable opportunities to criticize Israel rather than actively working towards the betterment of Gaza’s civilians.
To genuinely support the well-being of the Gaza population, it is crucial for advocates of the Palestinian cause to call for an end to Hamas’s continuous rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns. It should be evident to individuals across the political spectrum, that as long as Israel faces these attacks from Hamas, it will act to defend itself. While Hamas strategy is to deliberately wreak havoc on civilians and only fight military forces if necessary, Israel’s approach is the opposite. It only attacks Hamas militants and their infrastructure, and not the general population. However, the use by Hamas of civilians as human shields and the launching of attacks from facilities such as hospitals, will inevitably lead to civilian casualties in Gaza. To safeguard the well-being of Gaza’s civilians, Hamas can give up its goal of destroying Israel and simply surrender.