Jordan denounces Israeli shelling near Gaza hospital run by the kingdom

Seven staff wounded in Field Hospital Gaza 76

Jordanian medical personnel at a pro-Gaza demonstration in Amman last week. EPA
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Jordan said that Israel has an obligation to protect Field Hospital Gaza 76, run by the kingdom, after seven of its workers were wounded in Israeli shelling on Wednesday.

The incident occurred as Israeli forces, in a move that was widely condemned, entered Al Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital claiming there was a Hamas tunnel network beneath the hospital.

"Israel cannot claim that there is a tunnel under the [Jordanian] hospital," Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi told official television.

The Jordanian military has operated the hospital, a 40-bed facility, since 2009.

A military spokesman said in an overnight statement that the seven staffers at Field Hospital Gaza 76 suffered light wounds.

He said that they were were at the entrance of the hospital “trying to tend to” Palestinian casualties of overnight Israeli bombing on Gaza.

Since the Israel-Gaza war began on October 7, authorities have considered the hospital a symbol of Jordan's efforts to provide relief to besieged Palestinians.

"This is a war crime that occurred in the context of the accelerated shelling of hospitals in Gaza. Israel, as the occupying [force]... not only is obliged to protect the hospital but also to not hinder it," Mr Al Safadi added.

The Jordanian Air Force twice parachuted aid into the hospital this month after obtaining clearances with Israel.

Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 and are among the leading recipients of US aid. The two countries co-operate on security issues and have $150 million worth of bilateral trade.

In 1999, Jordan expelled Hamas's leadership to Qatar, citing security reasons. However, authorities have adopted a tough stance against the Israeli air and land bombardment and have allowed rallies across the kingdom in support of Gaza, except for sensitive border areas with Israel and near the US embassy in Amman.

A large proportion of Jordan's population of 10 million are of Palestinian origin. The rest are from tribes in the area east of the River Jordan who played a main role in the kingdom's foundation as a British protectorate in 1921 and still underpin the security forces.

In an article published by The Washington Post on Tuesday, King Abdullah repeated his call for an end to the war in Gaza to be followed by the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis.

The King is scheduled to meet EU President Ursula von der Leyen in Amman at the weekend to discuss the Gaza war, after a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo.

Ms von der Leyen said it was essential that Israel "strives to avoid civilian casualties" in its operations in Gaza.

EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell will also arrived in the region on Thursday to hold talks in Israel, Ramallah, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 10:21 AM