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There are conflicting claims of who was responsible for a rocket attack on an outpatient clinic at the al-Shifa hospital and a nearby playground in Gaza on July 28, 2014

The Israeli Defence Force claimed it was Palestinian terrorists.

Sky News says the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) deny responsibility, but that Gaza locals suspect the Israelis

Aljazeera and The Blaze quote both sides denying responsibility and blaming the other.

Is there any objective evidence of whether the rocket(s) were launched by Hamas or by the IDF?

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    What side we choose to believe is irrelevant in ascertaining the facts, this is merely asking which side we believe. – Sklivvz Jul 30 '14 at 16:27
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    One may hope that the side we choose to believe is determined by the facts. I'm expressly not interested in people's beliefs, but in the facts that convinced them (or the absence of such evidence, a valid answer too). I rephrased it so the word 'belief' is more directly disassociated with my question. – Spork Jul 30 '14 at 23:11
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    I suggest to ask again in several weeks/months when actual facts may be available to the general public. – Gilad Naor Jul 31 '14 at 13:53
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    @Spork: because the only people who have reliable evidence on this are extremely unlikely to be Skeptics.SE users, and even if they were they would definitely not lightly reveal such information. Otherwise you are just asking for a review of current news... – nico Aug 8 '14 at 15:55
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    Related links: Finnish journalist confirms that rockets are fired from near the hospital (1)[algemeiner.com/2014/08/01/…. Journalist Nick Casey apparently tweeted about Hamas being there (2)[dailycaller.com/2014/07/31/… – Benjol Sep 2 '14 at 12:46
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We have a few sides to this story:

  • Israeli citizens
  • The Israeli Army (IDF)
  • The Gazan citizens
  • Hamas, the rulers of Gaza
  • Independent journalists who are not Israeli or Gazan

The location in question is right in the middle of the Gaza strip and both sides would likely fire over that point. It should be noted that a significant portion of Hamas weapons, being improvised, fall short of their intended targets and land in the Gaza strip. Consider this incident in which a three year old Gazan girl was killed by a misfired Hamas rocket. Therefore, either side could plausibly have fired the projectile which landed in Shifa.

Israeli citizens

Israeli citizens have no evidence one way or another, they were not present so I do not see their viewpoint as being significant.

The Israeli army

The Israeli army, as party to the conflict, would be a likely suspect. The IDF denies that they fired on the hospital, and in fact blames Hamas. That is not surprising, I'm not sure of any incidents in which the IDF said "yes, we bombed that place that we shouldn't have".

Gazan citizens

The Gazan citizens may or may not have seen from where came the projectile, or from where it was launched. I have not seen any reports from Gazan citizens regarding this specific incident. I speculate that is because if it was an Israeli projectile, then it would have been moving too fast to see from where it came, and if it were a Hamas projectile then whoever saw the launch would not know to correlate it with the hospital, and whoever saw the explosion would have no way of knowing from where it came. I don't know if Gazan citizens would keep quiet out of fear if they knew it were a Hamas projectile.

Hamas

Hamas claims that the missile is Israeli in origin. This claim is supported by the fact that Hamas uses the hospital as an operation center and launches rockets from the hospital, thus one would conclude that would make it a military target for the IDF.

Independent journalists

An independent journalist has reported that the missile which hit al-Shifa was a misfired Hamas missle. However, by the same reasoning that Gazan citizens would not know who is responsible, I don't see how the journalist could conclude that Hamas was responsible. His explanation for his conclusion is Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris which seems tentative at best.

Conclusion

Either side is plausible. People will believe that "the other side" is responsible no matter which side of the conflict they are on. With no remains of the projectile saved to be examined, we will probably never know.

What evidence does remain

This is a late edit. I've found the following photograph which purports to be the site of the bombing. I cannot say if it is accurate or not. Perhaps someone familiar with the types of weapons used by Hamas and Israel could make an assessment.

Damage done to Al Shifa hospital.

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    neither does any other army, the USA did admit to bombing the MSF hospital in Kunduz. – gerrit Oct 20 '15 at 14:43
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    I'm uncomfortable with an argument that promotes where someone was born above what evidence they have to defend their position. – Oddthinking Oct 20 '15 at 15:08
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    I suppose the IDF could have objective evidence in the form of radar tracking data, but if so they are keeping the details of their capabilities secret (and as polarized as the region is more than a few people wouldn't believe them anyway). Likewise, Hamas could in principle have found enough device fragments enough to identify the weapon, but there would be those who simply assume they were collected from other sites. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Oct 20 '15 at 19:36
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    Two points in favor of the journalists: Hamas rockets carry wimpier warheads than Israeli bombs, both in total power and in detonation rate. Someone used to both could very well tell them apart. Also, the Hamas censorship suggests that they were telling the truth. – Loren Pechtel Oct 20 '15 at 23:05
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    @dotancohen I'm no explosives expert but from that picture I see no shrapnel damage anywhere around and the windows on the building in the background seem unbroken. Israel has some missiles designed not to throw fragments but they're guided and used for assassination, not for a strike on a building. I also note the absence of concrete dust--my understanding is that this means a low detonation rate. – Loren Pechtel Oct 22 '15 at 5:03

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