The Qatari-based international news organisation, Al Jazeera, has debunked Israel’s claims that Palestinian Islamic Jihad was responsible for firing a rocket into the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians and igniting worldwide outrage.
Palestinian officials have blamed Israel for the air strike, which by Wednesday had killed 471 people and wounded 314 others.
Israel insists that the blast at the hospital was the result of a Palestinian rocket “misfiring”.
Al Jazeera, through the use of social media accounts - including tweets of senior Israeli officials and video footage - has verified a timeline of events of how news of this massacre unfolded across social media.
In a “Fact Check” report by Khalid Majzoub, posted on its social media on Thursday, Al Jazeera says that a massive explosion ripped through the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, October 17 at around 6.59pm
Majzoub shows a video filmed from outside the hospital that captures the first sounds of ordinance whirring through the air and the subsequent explosions.
He said that almost immediately, multiple eyewitnesses took to social media to describe the scenes of a massacre.
The 24-hour news station said that at 8.23pm the Israeli Prime Minister's Social Media Advisor Hananya Naftali celebrated the bombing by saying “Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas terrorist base inside a hospital in Gaza and a multiple number of terrorists are dead”.
“He then deleted the tweet,” Majzoubt said.
It added that the Israeli army was quick to deny having anything to do with the attack on the hospital and tweeted, “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital”.
Along with the tweet, they posted CCTV footage reportedly confirming rockets being launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“One glaring problem with the footage they shared was the time stamp,” Majzoub added.
“The CCTV feed displays the time stamp of 7.59pm which was approximately one hour after the impact. The IDF then edited the tweet and removed the attached footage. Other Israeli army affiliated accounts also began circulating footage, which was later debunked and confirmed to be from August 2022.”
Showing how quickly the disinformation campaign began to spread, Majzoub said that another Twitter account claimed to be an Al Jazeera journalist, @faridakhan saying: “I saw with my own eyes it was Hamas Ayyash 250 Rocket”.
This account was, however, fake and deactivated after it proved to be fake.
The Al Jazeera network acted swiftly, releasing this statement on X, formerly known as Twitter: “This account has no ties to Al Jazeera its views or content”.
So what other evidence is there of the explosion? Majzoub asked.
He reported that the Israeli army claimed that footage on Al Jazeera proves the explosion at al-Ahli Arab hospital was due to a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“After analysing the footage we can see a rocket being intercepted (by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system) and breaking apart in mid air. Two more explosions follow, the first can be seen in the distance followed by a second much larger explosion at Al Ahli Arab hospital.
“This was the moment hundreds were killed.”
According to Majzoub, Al Jazeera’s digital investigation team has dedicated a detailed investigation into the matter.
“Independent military and weapons experts are still reviewing social media footage and eyewitness accounts. The Israeli army still refuses to let international journalists or independent bodies, such as the ICC from entering Gaza to act as independent investigators. The claims and counter claims continue.”
Majzoubt added: “And across social media, unverified and misleading assertions have become part of a wider narrative, much of it confusing and inaccurate, but all of it aimed at assigning blame without the facts to back it up.”