Ahli Arab hospital strike
People gathered around bodies of Palestinians killed in a strike on the Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza after they were transported to Al-Shifa Hospital, on October 17, 2023. Dawood NEMER/AFP

Thousands of Palestinians have been sheltering in hospitals in Gaza since Israel formally declared war on Hamas on 7 October.

Despite 65 per cent of Gaza's population already facing food insecurity, Israel's "total blockade" has left civilians facing a severe food and water crisis.

Israel had previously supplied Gaza with around 50 per cent of its electricity, but at the start of the siege, power lines from Israel were also cut off.

Yesterday evening, Tuesday 17 October, the Hamas-run Health Ministry reported that at least 500 people had been killed in an air strike on a hospital.

Soon after, a video of the hospital catastrophe circled on social media and The Associated Press confirmed that the hospital that had been hit was the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza.

Hamas immediately blamed the hospital air strike on the IDF, which increased tensions and sparked huge pro-Palestine protests worldwide.

The Israeli military strictly denied the allegations against them and immediately launched an investigation into the assault.

Israel responded to the allegations by releasing Israeli Air Force (IAF) footage on X, formally known as Twitter, that accused the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group of a failed rocket launch that backfired on the hospital.

On Wednesday, the IDF released a recording of a phone call that discussed the hospital air strike.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group is considered a terrorist organisation which has been known to operate alongside Hamas in Gaza.

The IDF also declared that if the military had conducted the attack on the hospital, the air strike would have left a crater.

Later, the Israeli military shared a video on their X account, that showed that the blast on the hospital left a fire in a nearby car park and a shrapnel-pocked roof – but no crater.

This morning, on Wednesday 17 October, the IDF took to X for the second time to address the air strike on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City.

The military released a recording of a phone call that discussed the hospital air strike. The intercepted phone call included the voices of two alleged Hamas operatives.

At the start of the recording, the men discuss the shrapnel of the missile belonging to a local source, instead of the IDF.

During the call, one of the Hamas operatives stated: "I'm telling you this is the first time that we see a missile like this falling and so that's why we are saying it belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."

Biden said that he believed the missile came from the "other team", due to data that was shown to him by the US Department of Defence.

Later, one of the operatives informs the other about where the missile came from, telling him that the missile was shot from "the cemetery behind the hospital". The same operative went on to add that the air strike "misfired and fell on them".

The IDF captioned the audio clip, posted on X: "Islamic Jihad struck a Hospital in Gaza—the IDF did not."

On Tuesday, during his 24-hour visit to Israel, which set out to mitigate the humanitarian impact of the Israel-Gaza war, US President Joe Biden publicly shared his view on the hospital strike.

Biden agreed with Israel's initial accusation that condemned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group for being behind the catastrophe.

After arriving at Ben Gurion airport, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he believed the IDF's account of events but worried that the rest of the world would not.

In a public conversation with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, the US President said: "The point is, is that I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you, but there's a lot of people out there not sure, so we've got a lot – we've got to overcome a lot of things."

Biden said that he believed the missile came from the "other team", due to data that was shown to him by the US Department of Defence.

Speaking of Hamas, the organisation which has ruled Gaza since 2007, Biden expressed: "We have to also bear in mind that Hamas does not represent all the Palestinian people and it has brought them only suffering."