An explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday killed hundreds of people, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Palestinian officials say an Israeli strike caused the blast, while Israeli military say it was caused by a failed rocket launch by militant group Islamic Jihad.
Bellingcat was able to identify what appears to be the impact crater, after analysing footage and images of the aftermath. We believe this crater to be an important piece of information about the attack, what follows is preliminary analysis of the crater.
Other images from the parking lot of the hospital show widespread damage to vehicles in the parking lot, including one that was flipped over onto its roof. Another vehicle nearby shows signs of extensive damage, while others show evidence that they were engulfed in flames.
The ground surrounding one side of the crater shows a cone of scarring and pitting, consistent with the explosion of a munition at this site. Objects within this cone appear to have suffered extensive damage, including a fence which was largely destroyed by the explosion.
As noted by Marc Garlasco, a Military Advisor at PAX for Peace’s Protection of Civilians team, the impact point does not appear to be consistent with the 500, 1000 or 2000-pound bombs used in Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).
We created a panorama showing the impact crater, based on the video above which helps show the affected area.
A video posted on Twitter on Tuesday night showed a grassy area adjacent to the hospital covered with dead bodies. At least two dozen bodies are visible in this video. Bellingcat is not linking to the video due to its graphic nature.
We geolocated another video posted on Telegram early Wednesday, which was filmed in this same grassy area and shows the site in daylight. That grassy area is located at these coordinates: 31.50503, 34.46167.
The video shows cots, blankets, and other personal belongings on the grassy area. Taken together, these two videos indicate that it was likely occupied by people who were resting or sleeping there at the time of the explosion.
In a press conference Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari outlined their analysis of the blast and why they believe it came from inside Gaza. He also stated that “no craters can be identified” at the site.
One of the images that Hagari held up during the press conference to support the claim that there were no craters at the site shows what appears to be a crater in a location corresponding with the Instagram video. The IDF did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The World Health Organisation said the Al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital was operational and patients, health care workers and internally displaced people were sheltering there when the explosion occurred.
Bellingcat will continue to monitor the latest war in Israel-Palestine, with the aim of documenting civilian harm.
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