American officials say they have multiple strands of intelligence — including infrared satellite data — indicating that the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday was caused by an armed Palestinian group.
The intelligence includes satellite and other infrared data showing a launch of a rocket or missile from Palestinian fighter positions within Gaza. American intelligence agencies have also analyzed open-source video of the launch showing that it did not come from the direction of Israeli military positions, the officials said. Israeli officials have also provided the United States with intercepts of Hamas officials saying the strike came from forces aligned with Palestinian militant groups.
“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,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Other U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive information, cautioned that the analysis was preliminary and that they were continuing to collect and analyze evidence. Multiple officials said the evidence gathered so far refutes claims that Israeli forces were responsible for the blast and was strong enough for President Biden to make comments supporting Israel’s account of events.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Mr. Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a joint appearance on his rare wartime visit to Israel. Mr. Biden said later that he had based his comments on an American military evaluation.
A senior Defense Department official said based on the launch data collected by infrared sensors that the United States was “fairly confident” the launch did not come from Israeli forces.
The Israel Defense Forces said that after a review, it found that a malfunctioning rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad caused the catastrophic blast at the Ahli Arab hospital. The group has denied the claim, and the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry said that an Israeli strike caused the blast, which it said killed hundreds of Palestinians.
On Tuesday, Israeli officials provided American intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Hamas members that indicated the rocket was fired by their side. Israeli officials have said the rocket was fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group allied with Hamas.
U.S. officials spent the night analyzing those intercepts along with the open-source data, videos captured by journalists and other that show a rocket flying in the vicinity of the hospital.
The United States regularly uses infrared satellite collection to analyze launches. The warning system was one of the first pieces of intelligence that showed that a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by Russian forces over Ukraine in 2014.