US: ‘Current assessment’ indicates Israel not responsible for Gaza hospital explosion

The White House said Wednesday its latest analysis of available data indicated Israel is not responsible for an explosion at a Gaza hospital that left hundreds dead and set off protests in the Middle East.

“While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement.

President Biden offered a similar assessment in Israel Wednesday while meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the explosion appeared to be the responsibility of “the other team.”

Asked later what made Biden sure Israel was not responsible, he cited data from the Pentagon. In prepared remarks from Tel Aviv, Biden reiterated his belief that Israel did not cause the explosion.

“Based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears the result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza,” Biden said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues Wednesday morning that newly released signal intelligence suggested groups within Gaza were responsible for the blast. 

“As the president indicated — people should look at this — released signal intelligence confirms it appears that terrorist fighters within Gaza were responsible for the explosion and deaths, not the Israeli IDF,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

“It is clear that terrorists in Gaza have no regard for civilian human life. As I have said and as the Biden administration has made clear, civilian life must be protected,” he added.  

The president arrived Wednesday morning local time for a whirlwind trip amid rising tensions in the Middle East. Terrorist attacks by Hamas, a militant group that controls Gaza, left more than 1,000 Israelis dead, and Israel’s retaliation on Gaza has killed thousands and raised alarms about a growing humanitarian crisis.

The trip became increasingly fraught after a hospital explosion in Gaza Tuesday killed hundreds of people, including patients who were seeking treatment and refuge amid heavy aerial bombardment by Israel over the last week.

Hamas and some Arab nations blamed the explosion on an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military said it was caused by a wayward rocket fired by another Palestinian militant group. The incident has sparked concerns about a wider conflict in the region as protests erupted in the West Bank and in neighboring countries with some targeting of U.S. embassies and Israeli consulates.

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