On Tuesday night, an Israeli airstrike targeted Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza where hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing over 500 Palestinians.
While many news outlets, political figures, and international organizations were quick to condemn the event for what it is, the atrocity was downplayed, justified or had an invisible perpetrator according to many mainstream western media and political figures.
The IOF originally released statements claiming that they had warned the hospital it would be struck one hour before it was, and this claim later shifted to pointing the blame on Hamas, and then later, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
On October 18, Israel released a supposed voice recording between Hamas operatives claiming responsibility for this action, prompting President Biden to concede that the perpetrators are “from the other side.” In contrast, President Putin of Russia stated that if Israel truly wants to prove itself innocent, it should release satellite images.
It is important to note that this is not the first time Israel has denied any wrongdoing, before silently revealing it was them months after the crime was committted. In the case of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the IOF first claimed it was Hamas that killed the journalist. Months later, they silently claimed the war crime as their own doing.
Across the world, many organizers have taken to the streets following the airstrike to stand in solidarity with Palestinian people, and in rejection of the ongoing onslaught by Israeli forces. This includes both widescale movements in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, and across the world.
Mainstream Western Media
Mainstream western media was quick to find wordings and quote sources close to Israeli forces to either downplay the magnitude of the massacre, justify it, or attempt to attribute the strike to Hamas.
This is in spite of the overwhelming evidence criminalizing Israel, such public statements from Israeli officials, such as Hananya Naftali, admitting and justifying the attack, the editing and removal of a video by the Israeli government on X (previously Twitter), and the fact that Israeli forces already targeted the hospital a few days beforehand on Saturday.
Beginning with headlines such as “Hamas-owned hospitals” to quoting sources from or close to Israeli forces in reporting on the issue, the approach of many platforms for covering the event mirrored its pre-coverage, with news platforms such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) headlining “Does Hamas build tunnels under hospitals and schools?” a day before the strike.
When the BBC posted a headline insinuating that Hamas uses schools or hospitals as potential coverups for underlying operations, they are preparing their audience to passively accept when Israel does the inevitable and bombs these areas under the pretense of “eradicating Hamas” – even if the consequences are killing women and children, committing war crimes, and evading responsibility.
Such media coverage, coupled with mainstream political figures’ positions, their direct aid to Israeli forces and their denial of aid to Palestinians, have played both a direct role and a facilitator role in the ongoing genocide taking place, the last episode of which is the massacre in Al-Ahli hospital.
Many international organizations called the strike for what it is, such as Doctors Without Borders (or MSF), who called the case “a massacre” that is “absolutely unacceptable” and called for an end to the bloodshed. Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon Ghassan Abu Sittah, who is also an MSF doctor, notes on his twitter: “I moved to Al Ahli hospital to help out. The Israelis have just hit the Ahli hospital”.
Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the attack on the hospital without mentioning that it was an Israeli airstrike. The organization also added that the hospital was one of 20 facing evacuation orders from Israeli forces – which the organization deemed “impossible” – and called for the immediate active protection of civilians and health care.
Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, highlighted that doctors and patients face impossible choices in Gaza and appealed to “all who have the power to make decisions” to choose “the way of hope”.
Political Figures and Governmental Decisions
Political figures around the world condemned the attack on the hospital, with varying approaches to their condemnation.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called for a three-day mourning following the airstrike, and cancelled his meeting with US president Joe Biden. Notably, Abbas has been mostly silent throughout the last two weeks, with one of his few statements claiming that Hamas doesn’t represent Palestinians.
Following the strike, Palestinians in the West Bank went on huge demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority and clashed with police forces, with the latter firing tear gas.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein says the strike is a “massacre” and a “war crime” as Jordan called off the planned four-way summit with the US and Middle Eastern authorities. Notably, huge demonstrations took place in front of the Israeli embassy following the massacre.
French president Emmanuel Macron said that nothing justifies striking a hospital or targeting civilians, without naming the perpetrator of the strike. It’s important to highlight in that regard that France was one of the nations (alongside the UK, the US and Japan) that voted against a UN resolution for a ceasefire.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the airstrike the latest example of Israeli forces’ basic human values-devoid attacks and invited “all humanity” to take action to stop the unprecedented brutality in Gaza.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for a national day of mourning on Wednesday. The country hosted several demonstrations on Tuesday night, with many protesters heading towards the American Embassy in Awkar. On Wednesday, numerous groups and individuals have called for protests across the country.