Canada says it is confident Israel not behind deadly blast at Gaza hospital

Analysis by Canadian Forces Intelligence Command finds the blast was more likely caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza.

Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital was the site of a deadly explosion on October 17 [Abed Khaled/AP]

Canada has a “high degree of confidence” that Israel was not responsible for the deadly explosion at Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, its defence department has said, adding to a flurry of claims and counterclaims about the contested blast.

The Canadian Forces Intelligence Command determined that the blast was more likely caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza after an analysis using open source and classified information, Minister of National Defence Bill Blair said in a statement on Sunday.

“Canada is deeply saddened by the loss of life caused by the explosion at Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza on October 17, 2023,” Blair said.

“We reiterate our sincere condolences to all those who lost loved ones.”

Blair added that officials would provide updates as new information becomes available.

The Department of National Defence said in a separate statement that the assessment was informed by an analysis of the blast site and the flight of the incoming munition.

“Reporting from Canada’s allies corroborates DND/CAF’s findings. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available,” the department said.

The Canadian assessment comes after the United States and France released similar findings suggesting Israel was not behind the explosion.

On Friday, France’s Directorate of Military Intelligence said that its intelligence indicated that an errant Palestinian rocket with an explosive charge of about 5kg was the likely cause of the explosion.

The cause of the blast at Al-Ahli Hospital and the resulting death toll have been bitterly contested.

Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli air strike, while Israel said the explosion was caused by a misfiring rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has denied responsibility.

An investigation by Al Jazeera cast doubt on Israeli statements that a flash captured in a live news broadcast showed a Palestinian rocket misfiring before striking the hospital.

Gaza’s health ministry said 471 people were killed in the explosion, a death toll Israel says has been deliberately inflated.

US intelligence agencies have estimated a death toll of 100-300 people.

On Friday, the United Nations called for an independent investigation into the explosion.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies