According to a spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Israeli bombings on Tuesday resulted in a significant rise in casualties at a Palestinian hospital.
In contrast, Israel maintains that the explosion was a result of Palestinian rocket attacks. This incident marked the highest single-incident casualty count during the ongoing conflict in Gaza, sparking protests in the West Bank, Istanbul, and Amman.
Mai Alkaila, the Palestinian Minister of Health, has leveled allegations against Israel, describing the events at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital as a “massacre,” which tragically claimed many lives. This unfortunate event occurred during Israel’s 11-day intensive bombing campaign in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that rather than the Israeli armed forces, “savage militants” in Gaza deliberately targeted the hospital.
Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Kudra mentioned on Wednesday morning that hundreds of people lost their lives, and rescue workers are still recovering bodies from the rubble. In the first few hours after the explosion, the Gaza civil defense chief reported 300 casualties, while Health Ministry sources mentioned a figure of 500.
Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Haggari told reporters that during the attack, rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group passed near the hospital. He said that they landed in the hospital’s parking area.
Another spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, told CNN that the military intercepted a conversation in which militants admitted to misfiring. He said that the military would release the recording.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad denied any of its rockets were involved in the hospital explosion, claiming that there was no activity in Gaza City or its vicinity at the time. Supported by Iran, the Islamic Jihad participated in an attack on Israel led by Hamas on October 7, firing multiple rockets at Israel.
The news of the hospital strike and the high death toll during President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel sparked international condemnation. Russia and the United Arab Emirates jointly urged for a convening of a United Nations Security Council session, which subsequently triggered confrontations in the West Bank.
On the preceding Tuesday, the United Nations officially confirmed an Israeli assault on one of its educational institutions, which had provided refuge to around 4,000 individuals. The organization documented six fatalities and numerous injuries resulting from the attack.
Simultaneously, the Israeli military affirmed its dedication to conducting a comprehensive inquiry into the occurrence.
Haggari, while briefing reporters, expressed doubt about the number of Palestinian casualties in the hospital attack and claimed that no direct attack was made on the facility. He stated that the drone footage showed a “kind of munition” at the hospital’s parking area, but it didn’t match the footage they had of Israeli Air Force activity in the area.
Answering a query regarding the number of casualties, Haggari replied, “I am uncertain about the exact count of fatalities here. Nobody can currently verify it.”
Sending sympathy and condemning the hospital attack.
In response to the explosion at the hospital and the deaths, President Biden has voiced his regret and rage. He mentioned in an official statement that he held discussions with leaders from Israel and Jordan and directed his national security team to investigate the exact sequence of events.
Significant Loss of Life in Gaza
Before the unfortunate events on Tuesday, as reported by Gaza’s health authorities, the toll from Israel’s 11-day bombing offensive had claimed the lives of at least 3,000 individuals. The campaign started on October 7 when Hamas militants assaulted Israeli cities, killing over 1,300 soldiers and civilians.
People displaced by Israeli airstrikes had crowded into hospitals in the hope of finding safety.
Only a week prior, Israel had issued an order for the 2.3 million people who lived in the northern Gaza Strip, a confined area that is only 45 kilometers (about 25 miles) long and had to migrate south. However, despite the aerial bombardment that destroyed targets across the enclave and Israeli ground operations, some displaced individuals have started to return north.
An unparalleled Assault on a Hospital, Universal Outrage
The World Health Organization has characterized the assault on the hospital as “unprecedented in its magnitude.” Previously, on Tuesday, it was reported that Gaza had experienced 115 attacks on health facilities, with most hospitals unable to function.
Israel has severed Gaza’s access to gasoline, food, water, electricity, and medication since the Hamas onslaught, tightening the present siege in the area.
Many nations have condemned the attack on the hospital with the utmost vehemence, including Egypt, Turkey, Canada, Jordan, and Qatar.
Palestinian demonstrators battled with Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, which is governed by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The security forces used tear gas to scatter the marchers. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas canceled a meeting with President Biden in response.