According to the updated balance sheet of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, where the radical Islamist movement Hamas rules, 471 people died in the explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City.
According to locals, hundreds of people were hiding in the hall on the hospital grounds. Local civil defense officials say the explosion was the result of an Israeli airstrike, and hundreds of people are trapped in the rubble.
One of the doctors on the scene told the BBC that there was complete devastation at the hospital. He added that the attack knocked out 80% of the hospital and that hundreds of people were killed or injured in the blast.
The Hamas government called the attack on the hospital a war crime. “There were hundreds of sick and injured in the hospital and people who were forced to leave their homes,” she said in a statement.
The former head of Hamas, Khalid Mishal, called on followers to protest in front of Israeli embassies, writes Reuters. The movement’s leader, Ismail Haniya, subsequently called on Palestinians to oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the settlers.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning following the attack on the hospital, according to Palestinian state media.
Israel: Not us, but Islamic Jihad
According to Reuters, the Israeli army initially said it had no information about the reported bombing of the hospital and was investigating the matter.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said he did not know whether it was an Israeli strike at all. “There are a lot of airstrikes, a lot of missile failures and a lot of fake news from Hamas,” he noted, according to The Times of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “barbaric terrorists”, not the Israel Defense Forces, were responsible for the Gaza hospital explosion.
Later, the army specified that, according to its intelligence, a rocket from the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad caused the explosion in the hospital. However, she denied responsibility for the attack, writes the BBC.
Israel presented evidence, read more about it:
On Wednesday, the Israeli military released a recording it says proves Islamic Jihad was responsible. One of the purportedly Palestinian speakers says of her: “They shot her from the cemetery behind the hospital.” Another asks: “What?” After another voice explains that it was a mistake. According to Israel, Hamas knows the true background of the event.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the second most powerful movement in the Gaza Strip after the ruling Hamas. Its goal, similar to that of Hamas, is the liberation of the entire territory of Palestine and the destruction of the state of Israel. The sponsors of the organization come mostly from Iran and Saudi Arabia. The group’s leadership is said to be in Syria.
According to the BBC, experts also point out that the traces of the attack do not correspond to how the Israeli army normally operates. For example, there is no crater or evidence of massive damage left by Israeli bombs.
“Horrible and totally unacceptable”
However, Egypt, Jordan and the League of Arab States (LAS), which strongly condemned the strike, refer to it as an Israeli intervention. Iran also called the attack a heinous and brutal war crime.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the airstrike is an example of Israeli strikes that “lack basic human values.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said when asked by journalists that the raid on the hospital was “terrible and completely unacceptable”.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also responded to the situation, stressing that civilians need to be protected everywhere in the world. According to him, the information still needs to be confirmed, however, “an attack against civilian infrastructure is not in accordance with international law.”