Israeli strike on Gaza hospital kills hundreds

Regional countries blame Israeli military, which has denied responsibility

An injured person is assisted after a missile strike on Al Ahli Arab Hospital on October 17. Reuters
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Hundreds of people were killed on Tuesday night in an Israeli missile strike at a Gaza hospital packed with wounded people receiving care, and displaced people seeking shelter.

Arab countries and Hamas said Israel had conducted an air strike. The Israeli military denied it, saying the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group conducted a failed rocket launch.

Initial estimates by the Gaza Health Ministry say at least 500 people were dead in the strike on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, in addition to many others missing at the medical complex in the centre of Gaza city.

Pictures from the hospital showed fire engulfing the centre's hallways, shattered glass and scattered body parts.

“Paramedics and emergency teams are working to pull the bodies out of the rubble,” Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Al Qudra said.

“The victims are being taken to Al Shifa hospital. Al Mamadani [hospital] was treating displaced people.”

Several hospitals in Gaza have become refuges for hundreds of people trying to avoid bombardment after Israel ordered all residents of the city and surrounding areas to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip.

The media office of Gaza's Hamas government described the attack as a war crime.

"Following an additional review and cross-examination of the operational and intelligence systems, it is clear that the [Israeli military] did not strike the hospital in Gaza," an Israeli military statement read.

If Israel's role is confirmed, the attack would be by far the deadliest Israeli air strike in five wars fought since 2008.

The hospital strike drew condemnation from international organisations and nations globally.

The World Health Organisation “strongly condemns the attack” and urged that “health care must be actively protected and never targeted”, according to international humanitarian law.

Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE condemned Israel in statements after the hospital bombing.

“The United Arab Emirates strongly condemns the Israeli attack that targeted Al Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of people,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its deep regret for the loss of life and conveys its condolences to the families of the victims, wishing a swift recovery for all those injured.”

An attack on a hospital in Gaza leaves hundreds dead

An attack on a hospital in Gaza leaves hundreds dead

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian officials and Lebanon declared three days of mourning for the hospital victims.

Mr Abbas said he would not attend a planned summit in Amman with US President Joe Biden, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and King Abdullah II.

Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, later cancelled the summit entirely after consulting with Egypt.

The UAE and Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday to address the hospital strike.

About 3,000 people have been killed in Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip since the war erupted on October 7.

More than 1,400 people in Israel were killed in an attack by Hamas militants on October 7, when members crossed from Gaza and attacked border communities.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 8:22 AM