What we know about Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza where an air strike killed hundreds

Known to locals as Mamadani Hospital, it is Gaza's only independent Christian-led medical facility

The scene at Al Ahli hospital after an air strike in Gaza City on Tuesday. EPA
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Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the centre of Gaza City was sheltering thousands of people who had been forcibly displaced by Israel before a air strike killed hundreds on Tuesday night.

Palestinian officials said Israel was responsible for the strike, with the Palestinian Authority's health minister accusing Israel of a massacre.

Israel blamed the blast on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.

MedGlobal, a non-profit medical organisation that works in Gaza, denounced the attack as a "war crime" that "compounds trauma in the Gaza Strip, sending the message that nowhere is safe, not even inside a hospital".

“The bombing of the [Al Ahli] Baptist hospital is the worst attack on a medical facility in the 21st century,” said MedGlobal president Zaher Sahloul.

Where is Al Ahli Arab hospital?

Al Ahli Arab Hospital, also known as Mamadani Hospital, is Gaza’s only independent Christian-led medical facility.

The 80-bed hospital handles about 3,500 outpatient visits a month, according to the website of the Diocese of Jerusalem, the local branch of the Anglican Communion that runs the hospital.

According to the hospital’s records, doctors at Al Ahli Arab handle about 300 operations and 600 radiology cases a month.

“The devastation witnessed, coupled with the sacrilegious targeting of the church, strikes at the very core of human decency. We assert unequivocally that this is deserving international condemnation and retribution. An urgent appeal resonates for the international community to fulfil its duty in protecting civilians and ensuring that such inhumane, horrific acts are not replicated,” the Diocese of Jerusalem said.

The hospital was founded in 1882, according to the Jerusalem diocese’s website and also ran a free programme for breast cancer detection.

It also provided free medical care and food to people in nearby towns and villages.

“In addition to its hospital facility, Al Ahli provides free mobile clinics to villages across Gaza and offers specialised support for different community groups such as free clinics for elderly women, free care for burn injuries and underweight or malnourished children, screening programmes for early detection of breast cancer among women and essential psychosocial support,” the Amos Trust, a pro-Palestine NGO group, said.

What has happened at the hospital during Israel-Gaza war?

The World Health Organisation said the hospital was one of 20 in the north of the Gaza Strip that faced evacuation orders from the Israeli military in recent days.

"The order for evacuation has been impossible to carry out given the current insecurity, critical condition of many patients, and lack of ambulances, staff, health system bed capacity, and alternative shelter for those displaced," the WHO said.

During Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, the hospital opened its doors to family members of the injured who were seeking refuge and shelter from the Israeli strikes. Hospital staff provided them with food, beds and support.

During that war in 2014, hospital staff at the hospital said they treated more than 45 severe burns cases a day on average, about half of which were children.

Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Al Qudra said rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Wednesday morning.

Before the deadly hospital strike, health authorities in Gaza said at least 3,000 people had died in Israel's 11-day bombardment that began after Palestinian militants launched an assault that caught Israel by surprise and led to nearly 200 people being taken to Gaza as hostages.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 12:29 PM