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Israel blamed for strike on hospital in Gaza centre, 500 dead

An air attack on Al-Ahli hospital in the Gaza Strip killed more than 500 people, Palestinian officials said.

In addition to the 500 dead, the health ministry claims hundreds more are under the rubble. Hamas says the blast killed mostly displaced people. The blast occurred at Gaza Central Hospital, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. It housed thousands of Palestinians seeking refuge from constant Israeli airstrikes. Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai Alqayla accused Israel of “a mass murder”.

The representatives of Gaza point out that Israeli aircraft carried out the blast at the hospital. Israel, in turn, denies its guilt and replies that the blast was caused by the misfire of a rocket fired by the armed group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The PIJ denies this accusation.

A number of world leaders condemned the strike on the hospital. Thousands of Palestinians protested across the Middle East, including in Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A summit with the US president and Arab leaders in the Jordanian capital Amman has been cancelled due to mass protests. According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, the meeting was supposed to take place at a time when all present could have agreed to work to end “the war and massacres of Palestinians.”

The leaders of the Middle East made the strongest statements. Saudi Arabia issued a strong condemnation of “the heinous crime committed by the Israeli occupation forces by bombing the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza.” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was also due to attend the summit, said he condemned “in the strongest terms the Israeli bombardment” of the hospital in Gaza.

However, their Western counterparts were not so categorical in their remarks about the hospital bombing. US President Joe Biden expressed “deepest condolences for the loss of innocent lives as a result of the explosion at a hospital in Gaza”. French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on his social media page that “nothing can justify a strike on a hospital,” and added that “light must be shed on all the circumstances.”

Israel denies all culpability and claims that the hospital blast was caused by a rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad operating in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the comment on his social media accounts:

An analysis of IDF [Israel’s army] operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit. “Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.

At a press conference, Israeli army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters that rockets fired by PIJ flew past the hospital in a strike that he said hit a car park. Hagari noted that there was no direct hit on the facility, and said footage taken by military drones showed “something like a hit on the car park.” He said the Israeli Air Force did conduct an operation in the area around the time of the hospital explosion, “but it was a different type of munition that … do not match the footage we have of the hospital.”

The PIJ organisation rejected Israeli accusations that it carried out the strike. In a statement, it said:

The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine. We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless.

Rescuers are currently continuing to search for survivors beneath the ruins of the hospital. The final number of injured and dead has not yet been determined.

Around 3,000 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip since the war erupted on October 7. More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, the majority gunned down by Hamas militants who crossed from Gaza and attacked border communities.


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