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Palestinian NGOs reject ‘inconclusive’ report on Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital bombing

Palestinian human rights groups and civil society organizations have dismissed an “inconclusive” report by an international non-governmental organization regarding the Israeli regime’s massacre of hundreds of civilians in a single attack against al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City.

In a statement released on Monday, the Palestinian organizations said they were “deeply troubled” by the “premature release” of the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) regarding the al-Ahli Hospital strike of October 17, 2023.

Palestinian officials in Gaza blamed an Israeli strike for the explosion at al-Ahli Hospital, while the Israeli army said it was caused by a rocket misfired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which rejected the accusations. Israel’s ally the United States has also put the blame on Palestinian fighters, while Arab states have blamed Israel.

“Without definitive results, key evidence, or access to the al-Ahli Hospital site, the Human Rights Watch’s decision to publish this while Israel continues its genocidal war including the targeting of hospitals must be questioned,” the statement said.

It went on to argue that the New York-headquartered HRW has opted to spread unfounded theories instead of calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and working to end what the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called a “crisis of humanity.”

The statement added that given the lack of evidence, the HRW’s report can be seen as “Israeli propaganda and justification for the ongoing genocide.”

“Indeed, HRW risks exacerbating the already catastrophic situation facing Gaza’s health care system by emboldening further Israeli attacks on medical facilities,” the statement read.

The HRW investigation, it highlighted, had no access to the site of the strike and relied exclusively on photos and videos, but concluded that the explosion at al-Ahli Hospital was caused by an apparent rocket-propelled weapon and, thus was likely caused by a misfired Palestinian Islamic Jihad missile.

“They base their conclusion on the assumption that this kind of munition is not what Israel usually uses, disregarding entirely the possibility that Israel may very well have used a new type of munition,” it said.

The statement further noted that several credible investigations have debunked central claims in the Israeli narrative, and other investigations have cast serious doubt on the plausibility of that narrative.

“HRW based their assumptions on the size of the crater, the type of splatter adjoining it, and the pattern of fragmentation around it without access to the site.  They suggested it was consistent with the impact of a local rocket despite the fact that it has never been documented that a Palestinian fired munition had caused such impact or damage.”

The Palestinian organizations went on to argue that the HRW report comes in the face of the dire conditions on the ground in Gaza, which currently lacks any semblance of civil authority, and Israel’s insistence to withhold critical evidence.

“On its part, HRW does not appear to have submitted Freedom of Information Law requests for key evidence from Israel,” the NGO stressed.

“We deplore HRW’s grave error in judgment – one which has devastating implications far beyond the borders of Gaza and the rest of Palestine. At a time when public trust in independent fact-finding institutions is of paramount importance, this HRW report weakens the credibility of human rights organizations and places Palestinian lives at risk,” the statement concluded.

Since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7, Israel has pounded hospitals across the besieged enclave where thousands of displaced people and patients were sheltering.

The regime has falsely accused the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas of using hospitals as bases, which Hamas has dismissed.

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