Palestinian Islamic Jihad slams Israel's accusations over Gaza hospital strike as 'lies'
Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Wednesday denied the Israeli army's "lies" and "false accusations" after it said that the group was responsible for a horrifying strike on a Gaza hospital that left hundreds dead.
At least 500 people were killed in a reported Israeli air strike on a hospital compound that sheltered the wounded and displaced from Israeli's relentless bombing of the besieged enclave, local health officials said on Tuesday, prompting global condemnation and fury.
Hundreds more are injured, with many feared to be stuck under rubble.
The Gaza health ministry accused Israel of being behind the attack on the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza but Israel's military claimed that the assault was a "malfunctioning rocket" fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
A massacre: hundreds are killed in an Israeli strike on the Episcopal (Anglican) Church hospital (Al Ahli Arab Hospital) in #Gaza, there were hundreds of medical staff, patients and civilians taking refuge under Church protection. What and how long will it take to stop these… pic.twitter.com/oc3wSHwRTO— Husam Zomlot (@hzomlot) October 17, 2023
"The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine," the PIJ said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless," it added.
Hamas also accused the Israeli army of carrying out the devastating strike on the Gaza hospital.
The PIJ pointed out that Israel was issuing conflicting statements regarding the deadly air strike, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ account spoke of "weapons and explosives being deliberately stored inside the hospital, and that the explosion occurred inside the hospital after rockets were fired from its surroundings".
According to the statement, the hospital had been ordered to evacuate by Israel under threat of bombardment, and it was a bomb dropped by an Israeli army plane that caused the tragedy.
It said the hospital had "received public notice made global of evacuation under threat of bombing".
The Israeli army alleged that the Gaza hospital was hit by a rocket "misfired" by PIJ militants.
Spokesman Daniel Hagari claimed during a press briefing that at the time of the strike, the Israeli army was "not conducting air operations" near the hospital and the rockets that hit the building did not match theirs.
Israel has carried out its fiercest assault in 70 years on the Gaza Strip since October 7, in retaliation for a surprise cross-border attack by Hamas on Israel.
Israeli strikes have killed over 3,000 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children, as well as wounding and displaced thousands more.
During its onslaught on the besieged enclave, Israel had repeatedly targeted hospitals, ambulances, schools and journalists.