Between 100 and 300 believed killed in Gaza hospital blast, according to preliminary US intelligence assessment

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The US intelligence community assesses that there likely were between 100 to 300 people killed in the blast at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, and there was “only light structural damage at the hospital,” according to an unclassified intelligence assessment obtained by CNN that adds more detail to the initial assessment released Wednesday finding Israel was not responsible for the strike.

The unclassified assessment sent to Capitol Hill by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence adds more detail to the US intelligence community’s initial assessment released Wednesday that Israel was not responsible for the strike on the hospital.

“Israel Probably Did Not Bomb Gaza Strip Hospital: We judge that Israel was not responsible for an explosion that killed hundreds of civilians yesterday [17 October] at the Al Ahli Hospital in the Gaza Strip,” the assessment states. “Our assessment is based on available reporting, including intelligence, missile activity, and open-source video and images of the incident.”

The US intelligence community also estimates the number of deaths from the hospital at the “low end of the 100-to-300 spectrum,” according to the assessment, a lower number than what Palestinian officials had initially stated.

The assessment states that intelligence indicates that “some Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip assessed that the explosion was likely caused by an errant rocket or missile launch carried out by Palestine Islamic Jihad” and that the militants were still investigating.

“We continue to work to corroborate whether the explosion resulted from a failed PIJ rocket,” the ODNI assessment states.

The assessment states that the intelligence community “observed only light structural damage at the hospital,” with no observable damage to the main hospital building and no impact craters.

“We see only light damage to the roofs of two structures near the main hospital building, but both structures remained intact,” the assessment states.

“We are still assessing the likely casualty figures and our assessment may evolve, but this death toll still reflects a staggering loss of life,” the assessment states. “The United States takes seriously the deaths of all civilians, and is working intensively to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

The National Security Council has said that the Biden administration plans to publicize as much intelligence as it can about the strike amid accusations that Israel was responsible for the blast.

“We will be sharing that information with our friends and partners in the region we have shared as much of that information as we can publicly,” Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told CNN on Thursday.

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