A spokesperson from the Gaza health ministry said several people lost their lives in an explosion at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday.
Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesperson said the death toll numbered in the hundreds, and rescue teams were in the process of recovering bodies from the debris. In the initial aftermath of the explosion, the head of Gaza’s civil defence indicated that around 300 individuals had died, whereas sources from the health ministry said the estimated number was around 500.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities pointed fingers at Palestine with its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blaming Palestinian militants for the explosion. “The entire world should know: It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza and not the IDF,” he said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces. “Those who brutally murdered our children also murder their own children.”
Speaking on his statement that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the Gaza hospital attack, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour called him a liar. “He is a liar. His digital spokesperson tweeted that Israel did the hit thinking that there was a base for Hamas around this hospital, and then he deleted that tweet. We have a copy of that tweet. Now they changed the story to try to blame the Palestinians. The Israeli spokesperson of the Army made a statement in which he said evacuate the hospitals…Their intention is to evacuate or hospitals will be hit and they are responsible for that crime and they cannot fabricate stories to deal with it.”
Gaza is a narrow enclave spanning 45 kilometres (25 miles) inhabited by 2.3 million people. It has been under the control of Hamas, an Islamist organisation designated as a foreign terrorist group by the United States, since 2006. The explosion occurred just before a planned visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel. His visit is intended to express solidarity with Israel in its conflict with Hamas and to discuss Israel’s strategies for reducing harm to civilians. One of the key objectives of the US is to prevent the conflict from escalating further.
Following the hospital incident, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, decided to cancel a summit that his country was slated to host in Amman with President Biden, as well as the leaders of Egypt and the Palestinian territories.
The explosion also triggered widespread criticism throughout the Arab world, prompting protests near Israel’s embassies in Turkey and Jordan, as well as in the vicinity of the US embassy in Lebanon.
The White House released a statement indicating that US President Joe Biden expressed a strong sense of outrage and deep sorrow in response to the explosion. The White House quoted Joe Biden, stating, “I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted.”
The World Health Organization condemned the deadly strike and demanded the immediate protection of civilians and health care in the strip. “WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
Hezbollah, the Iran-supported militant organization in Lebanon, strongly criticised what it described as Israel’s lethal assault on the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital in Gaza, which is managed by the Anglican church. They further called for “a day of unprecedented anger” against Israel and in response to President Biden’s visit.