American intelligence agencies have assessed that a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday killed 100 to 300 people, a more conservative estimate than that given by officials in Gaza, and that the hospital suffered light damage.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza gave the death toll as 471, revising its earlier assertion of 500 dead.

The unclassified assessment drafted by U.S. intelligence agencies on Wednesday cautioned that the casualty assessments could change.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the latest information, said the death toll was likely at the low end of that estimate. But even if it is revised downward further, officials emphasized that the blast had still caused a significant loss of life. U.S. officials did not say what intelligence led them to their estimated death toll.

Palestinian officials have blamed an Israeli airstrike for the blast, an assertion that was disputed by the Israel Defense Forces, which said it was caused by an errant rocket fired by the armed Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Neither side’s account could be independently verified.

The U.S. assessment, which concurs that Israel was not responsible for the blast at Ahli Arab hospital, highlights how much U.S. officials still do not know about the blast at the hospital, what exactly caused it and how many lives were lost there. Officials were examining the reports of relatively light damage to the hospital and adjacent structures to try to find clues about what precisely happened.

The war between Israel and Hamas has also spawned so much false or misleading information online — much of it intentional, though not all — that it is often hard to ascertain what is actually happening on the ground.

The U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Israel was not responsible for the explosion was based on videos collected by civilians, satellite imagery, missile activity tracked by infrared sensors and other data. But intelligence officials cautioned that they do not fully understand what happened at the hospital and are continuing to collect information. The unclassified report reflects U.S. officials’ evolving knowledge of the events.

“Israel Probably Did Not Bomb Gaza Strip Hospital,” said the unclassified intelligence assessment drafted on Wednesday. “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 unclassified documents are written in the style of the U.S. spy agencies, full of standard caveats that their understanding of events may change.

The United States has infrared sensors, which are both satellite and aircraft based, that can determine the launch sites of a variety of rockets and missiles. That technology has proved critical to the U.S. assessment, which does not lay blame for the blast on Israel.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials said the intelligence indicated that there had been a launch of a rocket or missile from Palestinian fighter positions within Gaza. But they were uncertain about how an errant Palestinian rocket could have caused so much loss of life at the hospital.

In Thursday’s assessment, the intelligence agencies said they “continue to work to corroborate” whether the explosion was caused by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. The U.S. officials said that Israeli officials had intercepted communications that indicated some militants in Gaza believed the explosion was caused by an errant rocket or missile launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

U.S. intelligence agencies have reported to the White House and Congress their assessment that there was only light structural damage to the hospital following the blast, and no impact craters at the hospital. Two structures near the main hospital took minor damage to their roofs, but remained intact.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials said they were looking closely at an explosion next to the hospital in its courtyard or parking lot, to see if that was responsible for some or much of the loss of life. It is possible that a rocket hit a parking lot near the hospital where people were gathered, but American officials are trying to learn more.

A freelance videographer working for The New York Times who visited the scene the day after the explosion filmed footage showing a small impact crater. Other photos and video footage show the same, including the Israeli military’s aerial image. It is as yet unclear whether the crater is related to the explosion and if any conclusions can be drawn from it.

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