Today's D Brief: Hospital blast in Gaza; WestPac close calls; Pakistan’s new missile; Japan’s railgun; And a bit more.
Gaza hospital tragedy deepens Israeli-Hamas crisis. It’s beginning to look like an errant rocket failed en route to its presumed target in Israel and fell on the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, killing hundreds of innocent Palestinians.
Residents in Gaza blamed Israeli warplanes for the explosions, since the Israeli air force has been conducting thousands of its own airstrikes on alleged militant positions in the Gaza Strip since Hamas terrorists launched their deadly surprise attack on Israel 11 days ago.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas even canceled his planned visit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Jordan this week after the hospital explosion. Abbas also called for three days of mourning for the hundreds of victims. Jordan’s foreign minister went ahead and canceled the planned Amman leg of Biden’s trip due to growing protests in the Jordanian capital in the hours immediately after the hospital explosion.
But Israeli officials strenuously deny they were involved, and blame “barbaric terrorists in Gaza,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it in a tweet on Tuesday. His military, however, made an apparent blunder in their denial on social media—using, for example, a video taken almost an hour after the explosion occurred as supporting evidence they were not responsible. But Aric Toler of the New York Times flagged the time discrepancy, which seems to have hurt the Israeli military’s credibility. Almost three hours after Toler’s observation, the Israeli Defense Forces were back on social media with a video proclaiming their innocence in the strike.
Said President Biden, standing beside Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Wednesday: “[B]ased on what I've seen, it appears as though [the hospital strike] was done by the other team, not you. But there's a lot of people out there who are not sure,” he said, and added, “We[’ve] got to overcome a lot of things.” When asked by reporters why Biden is so sure Israel was not to blame, the president replied that it is because of “the data I was shown by my Defense Department,” according to the White House pool reports from Tel Aviv.
Earlier Tuesday, Biden released a statement on the strike, stressing that “The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy.”
A post-strike image was posted to social media Wednesday, and it appears to lack a “crater or obvious shrapnel pattern consistent with standard IAF JDAM/Mk80 series bombs,” Justin Bronk of the London-based Royal United Services Institute responded. It is hardly conclusive at this early stage, he noted; however, “an airstrike looks less likely than a rocket failure causing an explosion and fuel fire,” he said.
- “Palestinian Authority cracks down on protests over Israel Gaza attacks,” al-Jazeera reported Wednesday;
- “How Hamas evaded Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system,” via The Conversation, reposted at Defense One;
- “‘The wounded started stumbling towards us’: the chaos after Gaza hospital blast,” the Guardian reported Wednesday;
- And the New York Times found “Bloody Blankets and ‘Lots of Bodies’ at a Devastated Gaza Hospital,” in their post-strike reporting Wednesday as well.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here. On this day in 1922, the British Broadcasting Corporation was founded.
The Pentagon declassified 15 “recent cases of coercive and risky operational behavior” by the Chinese air force against U.S. aircraft on Tuesday. The disclosures, which go back to January 2022 and concerned interactions over the East and South China Seas, come ahead of a congressionally mandated annual report on Beijing’s military.
“The declassified images and videos were captured during lawful U.S. air operations, during which [Chinese People’s Liberation Army pilots and] operators engaged in coercive and risky activities, including reckless maneuvers, close approaches at high speeds in the air, releasing objects and projectiles like flares, and other dangerous behavior,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
At one point in May 2022, a Chinese pilot approached as close as “15 feet laterally and 10 feet below the U.S. plane,” the Pentagon said. That December, a different pilot “flew in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the U.S. plane, forcing the U.S. aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.” Similar proximities were recorded in February and June of this year. Read and watch more from those interactions, here.
And similarly, over the summer, USNI News flew aboard a Navy P-8 and captured video of one of the Chinese intercepts. See that, and read their report from the region, here.
Ahead of next month’s planned meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Biden in San Francisco, the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies is hosting an event at noon Wednesday (today) to discuss the future of U.S.-China relations. Participants include Rayhan Asat of the Atlantic Council, national security attorney Nazak Nikakhtar, FDD's China Program chairman Matt Pottinger, and FDD Senior Fellow Craig Singleton. Details and livestream, here.
New: Pakistan says it just successfully tested its Ababeel medium-range ballistic missile, whose range is believed to be nearly 1,400 miles, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Radio Pakistan shared a purported video of the missile test on social media, which you can see here.
The test focused on the missile’s “different sub-systems,” which U.S.-based analyst Ankit Panda says seems to suggest the test was of a “MIRV-capable” missile, meaning it contains multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles—or warheads. Using MIRVs would make the decision to launch an attack with the missile (on India, for example) much more likely to succeed since air defense systems would have to eliminate multiple objects simultaneously.
In case you missed it: India’s military tested a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile just over a week ago. That missile is believed to have a range of around 300 miles. Janes has more, here.
There’s also this: “Japan’s Railgun Performs First Test Firing At Sea,” The Drive reported Tuesday from Tokyo’s defense ministry.
Upcoming: the annual Military Reporters and Editors conference is happening next week, Friday, Oct. 27 in Washington D.C. Headliners include Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith, both of whom will be delivering keynote addresses. Review the full agenda here. Registration (here) is required, and it costs $74—unless you are an MRE member, in which case it’s closer to $30.