Gaza authorities say hundreds killed in Israeli air raid on hospital

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People gather around bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza after they were transported to Al-Shifa hopsital [Dawood Nemer/AFP]

Palestinian health ministry says that at least 500 people have been killed in an attack on a hospital in central Gaza.

Hundreds of people have been killed in an Israeli air raid on a hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian authorities.

The health ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday that at least 500 people were killed in the air raid on Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza.

The Hamas group, which governs the Palestinian territory, said the attack was a “war crime”.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said there were no details on the hospital deaths.

“We will get the details and update the public. I don’t know to say whether it was an Israeli air strike,” he said.

Images shared on social media appeared to show fire engulfing the building, widespread damage and bodies scattered in the wreckage.

Since Israel began pounding Gaza from the air on October 7, tens of thousands of people seeking refuge from the bombardment have fled to hospitals throughout Gaza.

The World Health Organization condemned the attack and demanded the immediate protection of civilians and health care in the Palestinian enclave.

“WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital”, the UN health agency’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on the social media platform X.

Egypt said it denounced the attack “in the strongest terms”. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “It’s not acceptable to hit a hospital”.

Reporting from Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum said the area where the air raid hit was “full of displaced people”.

“This area [where the bombing occurred] is densely populated, full of commercial shops, residential buildings, and even was full of displaced people who have evacuated their houses after receiving orders from the IOF to evacuate,” said Azzoum.

“Those people have been evacuated from the northern area, they just only moved to the central area of the Gaza Strip, to this hospital, because they believed that this hospital was quite safe to be away from the Israeli bombardment.”

Medical and rescue workers have previously raised alarm over what they say is a pattern of deliberate targeting of medical vehicles by Israeli attacks.

“When ambulances are trying to reach areas under fire, they are targeted as a message that no one should get inside to evacuate injured or stuck people,” Sohaib Safi, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) in Gaza, told Al Jazeera earlier last week.

The attack on the hospital comes amid a continuing barrage of Israeli air raids that have killed more than 3,000 people and reduced entire neighbourhoods in Gaza to rubble, according to Palestinian officials.

Israel launched the assault on Gaza after Hamas fighters carried out a surprise attack from the territory on southern Israel. At least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Hamas attack, according to Israeli officials and at least 199 others were taken as hostages.

The devastating attack on the hospital comes on the eve of a trip to Israel by US President Joe Biden. The visit is expected to see him reaffirm US backing for Israel and try to stop the Israel-Hamas war from spiralling into wider conflict.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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