On Tuesday, the 17th of October, a bomb ripped through the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City, killing hundreds of people. Palestinian officials blamed the blast on an Israeli air strike, but the Israeli military says it was caused by a failed rocket attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the militant group denies, reports the BBC.
Gaza’s health ministry said 500 people had been killed and hundreds more are feared trapped under the rubble.
First footages after the shelling of a hospital in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/ToLQqgTb5n
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) October 17, 2023
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) initially insisted it had not targeted hospitals and warned against “unverified claims”. Later, the IDF’s chief spokesman, Vice Admiral Daniel Hagari, said in a video message that “following additional checks of operational and intelligence systems, the IDF did not attack a hospital in Gaza”. He explained that the attack on the hospital was related to a rocket fired unsuccessfully by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation.
He said that 450 of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel since the start of the war had landed in Gaza, endangering civilians.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad denied any use of its rockets and said it had not carried out any operations in the Gaza City area during this period.
The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed shock and horror at the reports, stressing that hospitals should be places of refuge to preserve human life and calling for their protection in accordance with international humanitarian law.
“No patient should be killed in a hospital bed. No doctor should lose their life trying to save others,”
the Red Cross said in a statement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called for the immediate protection of civilians and health facilities, while urging the Israeli army to lift evacuation orders for 20 hospitals in northern Gaza due to ongoing insecurity and the critical condition of patients.
First pictures in daylight of the Al-Ahly hospital.
It looks like the parking lot in front of the hospital took the main hit. pic.twitter.com/xyS02vblbG
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) October 18, 2023
The hospital bombing threatens efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Jordan cancelled a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, the 18th of October, with US President Joe Biden, King Abdullah and the Palestinian and Egyptian leaders.
Biden is still on his way to Tel Aviv to reiterate his country’s “solidarity with Israel” and “firm commitment to its security”.