US intelligence shows Islamic Jihad rocket misfired on Gaza hospital, but Tlaib still blames Israel
Rep. Rashida Tlaib | Robin Bravender/States Newsroom
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) has refused to back away from comments blaming Israel for the deadly explosion Tuesday in the courtyard of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, despite President Joe Biden saying information from U.S. intelligence agencies indicated that the blast was the result of a misfire by militant group Islamic Jihad.
Some news outlets on Tuesday initially reported militant group Hamas’ claim that Israel was responsible for the explosion. Palestinian officials said as many as 500 people were killed while the hospital was crowded with those injured in the ongoing Israeli air strikes, as well as civilians seeking shelter from those strikes.
Following the incident, Jordan canceled a summit with Biden and the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders about Gaza and humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the group launched multiple attacks on Oct. 7 against Israeli civilians. The Gaza Health Ministry is reporting over 3,700 deaths and the Israeli Defense Force is reporting over 1,400 deaths. Israel said Hamas militants have taken 199 hostages. At least 30 Americans have been killed and 13 Americans are unaccounted for.
However, Israel said it was not responsible for the hospital blast and Biden concurred Wednesday during his trip to Israel. The National Security Council said analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information indicated the explosion was caused by an errant rocket from Islamic Jihad, CNN reports.
In the immediate aftermath of the hospital blast on Tuesday, Tlaib, who’s Palestinian-American and a frequent critic of Israel, tweeted a condemnation not only of Israel, but also of Biden.
“Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that. @POTUS this is what happens when you refuse to facilitate a ceasefire & help de-escalate,” she said. “Your war and destruction only approach has opened my eyes and many Palestinian Americans and Muslims Americans like me. We will remember where you stood.”
Earlier this week, Tlaib co-sponsored a House resolution from U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) calling for “an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.”
However, by early Wednesday, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson tweeted that intelligence indicated Israel was not at fault.
“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,” she said.
Later on Wednesday, while visiting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden confirmed that assessment, saying that it “appears it was done by the other team, not you.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee also came to the same conclusion, with Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) releasing a joint statement to that effect.
“Based on this information, we feel confident that the explosion was the result of a failed rocket launch by militant terrorists and not the result of an Israeli airstrike.”
However, Tlaib has not deleted the post as of 10:55 a.m. Thursday. She also doubled down on her criticism of Biden while speaking Wednesday at a Washington, D.C., rally hosted by the left-leaning group Jewish Voice for Peace.
“To our president, I want him to know, as a Palestinian American who is also somebody of Muslim faith, I’m not going to forget this. And I think a lot of people are not going to forget this,” said Tlaib, “It’s like it doesn’t even matter. And that’s what’s been really painful [to] just continue to watch people think it’s OK to bomb a hospital with children,” she said before continuing to speak through tears.
“You know what’s so hard sometimes is watching those videos and the people telling the kids, ‘Don’t cry’ and I’m like, ‘Let them cry’ and they’re shaking. And somebody, you know, they keep telling them not to cry in Arabic. They do. They can cry. I can cry. We all could cry. If we’re not crying, something is wrong. And so I’m telling you right now, President Biden, not all America’s with you on this one and you need to wake up and understand that. We’re literally watching people commit genocide and killing a vast majority just like this. And we still stand by and say nothing. We will remember this.”
The Michigan Advance has made requests for comment to Tlaib, but they have yet to be returned. Tlaib also did not respond Wednesday to some other media’s questions in Washington.
During his trip to Israel, Biden announced $100 million in new U.S. humanitarian assistance for Gaza and the West Bank, providing support for “over a million displaced and conflict-affected people with clean water, food, hygiene support, medical care, and other essential needs.”
Israel also agreed Wednesday to allow food, water and medicine to cross into Gaza, but only through Egypt.
“Israel will not allow any humanitarian assistance from its territory to the Gaza Strip as long as our captives are not returned,” read a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
Tlaib has garnered bipartisan criticism for her statements since the Oct. 7 surprise attacks.
“I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day,” Tlaib said. “I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity. The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.
“The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer,” she said. “No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) introduced a resolution to censure Tlaib “for her antisemitism and disgraceful response to the attacks on our ally, Israel.”
“This statement refuses to acknowledge 10/7 for what it was: a shocking act of terrorism,” said state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Tlaib told the Advance on Oct. 11: “I do not support the targeting and killing of civilians, whether in Israel or Palestine,” she said. “The fact that some have suggested otherwise is offensive and rooted in bigoted assumptions about my faith and ethnicity.”
Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story.
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