Hundreds Killed in Gaza Hospital Blast Amid West Bank Protests
"Israeli 'Air Strike' Accused of Killing 500 Palestinians, Say Palestinian Health Authorities"
In Gaza, approximately 500 Palestinians lost their lives in a hospital explosion on Tuesday.
Palestinian health authorities attribute the incident to an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military claims it resulted from a “failed rocket launch by a Palestinian fighter group.”
This incident marked one of the deadliest single events in Gaza since Israel initiated a sustained bombing campaign in response to a cross-border attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities on October 7.
The timing of the explosion coincided with US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel to express support for the country in its conflict with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and to discuss Israel’s efforts to minimize civilian casualties.
It’s important to note that Reuters could not independently verify the responsible party for the explosion.
The health minister in Gaza’s Hamas-run government, Mai Alkaila, accused Israel of a massacre, and a Gaza civil defense chief reported 300 casualties, while a health ministry official stated that the death toll reached 500.
Before this tragic incident, Gaza health authorities reported over 3,000 deaths during Israel’s 11-day bombardment, which commenced following Hamas’ incursion into Israeli towns and kibbutzes on October 7, resulting in more than 1,300 casualties, predominantly civilians.
However, the Israeli military denied any involvement in the hospital blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi in Gaza City, suggesting it was the result of a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad military group in the enclave.
According to an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, “An analysis of IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit.”
The spokesperson also added, “Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.”
Daoud Shehab, a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, refuted these claims, stating, “This is a lie and fabrication, it is completely incorrect. The occupation is trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians.”
While the incident’s exact cause is still disputed, it may further complicate diplomatic efforts to address the ongoing crisis.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled a planned meeting with President Biden following the hospital blast.
As news of the hospital explosion emerged, several Arab countries, Iran, and Turkey swiftly condemned the incident.
The Palestinian prime minister described it as “a horrific crime, genocide” and held countries supporting Israel partly responsible.
Protests erupted in the West Bank, adding to the escalating tensions in the region.