U.S. intelligence officials said on Tuesday that agencies had assessed that the video shows a Palestinian rocket launched from Gaza undergoing a “catastrophic motor failure” before part of the rocket crashed into the hospital grounds. A senior intelligence official said the authorities could not rule out that new information would come to light that would change their assessment but said they had high confidence in their conclusions.
Asked about The Times’s findings, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said The Times and American intelligence agencies had different interpretations of the video.
Discerning what happened is especially complicated because Israel and Hamas have been firing at each other since the war began.
Israel has fired more than 8,000 munitions into Gaza, in what has become a brutal assault, and had even hit the Al-Ahli Arab hospital with an illumination artillery shell three days earlier, according to video evidence and the hospital’s official Facebook page.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have continued to target Israel with deadly rockets from hidden launch sites inside Gaza. Palestinian rockets have malfunctioned in the past and one estimate says 15 percent of rockets launched by Gazan militant groups fail.
Within an hour of the hospital blast, an information war began. Hamas immediately blamed an Israeli airstrike, while the Israel Defense Forces soon denied any responsibility and placed the blame on a malfunctioning Palestinian rocket.
Israeli officials released a report about the explosion on Oct. 18 and also made public one conversation they said was intercepted between Hamas fighters blaming Islamic Jihad for the blast. Israel also has cited several other pieces of evidence that have not been made public, including logs of military activity, information gleaned from radar systems, other audio intercepts and other videos.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials have pointed to the Al-Jazeera video in media interviews and social media.
The Al Jazeera video footage was shared three times by the Israel Defense Forces on X, formerly known as Twitter. In the posts, the Israeli military identified the moving aerial object as a “rocket aimed at Israel” that “misfired and exploded” at nearly the same time as the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital blast. Spokesmen for the Israeli military also explicitly identified this munition as the misfired rocket that caused the explosion in interviews with CNN and the BBC on Oct. 18 and in an interview with India Today on Oct. 19.
Numerous media outlets have shown the video footage and several have cited it as evidence that a Palestinian rocket hit the hospital.
But The Times concluded that the missile in the video was never near the hospital. It was launched from Israel, not Gaza, and appears to have exploded above the Israeli-Gaza border, at least two miles away from the hospital.