Fact check: Who's behind the deadly Gaza hospital blast?

Israeli and Palestinian officials are blaming each other for Tuesday evening's strike on a Gaza hospital. Social media is filled with speculation about who was behind the blast

The actual number of casualties remains disputed and could not be verified at the time of publication (photo: DW)
The actual number of casualties remains disputed and could not be verified at the time of publication (photo: DW)


Rumors and theories about who was to blame for Tuesday evening's devastating blast at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City have ripped through social media since the night of the strike.

Although very little is known about the circumstances of the blast, it appears certain that a rocket or part of a rocket struck the hospital grounds.

According to the Ministry of Health in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, which is run by the militant Islamist group Hamas — classified a terrorist organization by the EU, Germany and other states — some 500 people were killed in the blast and ensuing blaze.

However, the actual number of casualties remains disputed and could not be verified at the time of publication.

Social media platforms are brimming with speculation. Did the Israeli army deliberately target the hospital? Did a Hamas rocket misfire? Is the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad responsible?

DW fact check examines some of the most prominent online claims to emerge in the aftermath of the strike.

Claim: Some are saying the Israeli army boasted that it bombed the hospital in Gaza because patients inside would not have survived anyway due to a lack of medical supplies.

DW fact check: False

The supposed "proof" for this claim is a screenshot of a post allegedly published on the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) Arabic-language Facebook page.

The English translation of the purported post reads: "Due to the lack of medical equipment and the lack of medical staff, it was decided to bomb the Baptist Hospital in Gaza and give them euthanasia death."

The screenshot has been shared many times by several accounts and media outlets, including on the X (formerly known as Twitter) account of Quds News Network, a Palestinian news agency.

The IDF maintains Facebook pages in Hebrew, English and other languages. It launched its Arabic page in 2011. Each of its official pages bears a verification checkmark.

But the Facebook page featured in the screenshot does not bear the verification checkmark, and its account name is different from the official name of the IDF's Arabic-language Facebook page.

An IDF spokesperson told the fact-checking portal Check Your Facts — a member of the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) — that the account in question does not belong to the Israel Defense Forces.

Deciphering videos

Countless users are trying to discern from various videos whether the devastation at Al-Ahli Hospital was caused by a targeted attack or a stray missile. Since the incident occurred at night, it is hard to tell what exactly hit the building and triggered the fire when examining these clips.

It is also hard to verify which videos are authentic. What is certain is that the widely shared video depicted in the screenshot below cannot provide any information about what happened on Tuesday.

Claim: One of the videos purporting to show what caused the blast features a missile flying in a wide, horizontal arc before impact. The six-second clip claims the hospital was hit by an errant Hamas rocket. One tweet sharing this claim has been viewed 400,000 times.

DW fact check: False

The video definitely has nothing to do with the blast at Al Ahli Hospital on Tuesday. Using a reverse image search, the DW fact check team found that it had already been shared on social media platforms, including TikTok, in 2022.

Al Jazeera witness?

The Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera was one of the first media outlets to report on the blast and initially claimed it was caused by an Israeli air strike, citing official sources in Gaza. Western agencies did the same. Since then, Al-Jazeera, Reuters and others have left the question of who was behind the blast open, citing the fact that both Palestinian and Israeli officials are blaming each other.

Claim: Supposedly, an Al-Jazeera reporter accused her own station of lying, claiming she recognized a Hamas Ayyash 250 rocket hitting the hospital.

DW fact check: False

This claim reportedly derived from an X account named "Farida Khan." The now-deleted account's bio stated: "Journalist @AJEnglish, Reporting Truth from Gaza and Palestine."

An archived version showed the account was opened in September and published over 5,000 posts in the few weeks of its existence — typical for accounts set up by trolls — the tweet about the strike on Al-Ahli Hospital was the account's last. By the time it was archived, about three hours after being posted, it had been viewed over 210,000 times.

Al Jazeera posted the following disclaimer on X: "The X / Twitter account @_Faridakhan falsely claims Al-Jazeera affiliation. We want to clarify: This account has no ties to Al-Jazeera, its views, or content. Exercise caution, verify information prior to publishing."

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Published: 20 Oct 2023, 12:15 PM