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17 Oct, 2023 19:36

WHO condemns Gaza hospital attack

Over 500 people were killed at al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Palestinian authorities have claimed
WHO condemns Gaza hospital attack

The World Health Organization (WHO) has denounced the attack on a Gaza hospital that killed at least 500 people on Tuesday, calling for “immediate” protection of civilians in the Palestinian territory. Israel has denied responsibility for the strike and blamed Hamas.

The WHO “strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in north Gaza,” said the organizations’ head, Dr. Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus. “We call for the immediate protection of civilians and health care, and for the evacuation orders to be reversed.”

An Israeli airstrike killed more than 500 people, both patients and civilians seeking shelter, while “hundreds” more remain under the rubble, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. 

“Hitting a hospital containing women, children and innocent civilians is the latest example of Israel’s attacks devoid of the most basic human values. I invite all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in Gaza,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said on X.

“The expansion of Israeli attacks over the Gaza Strip to include hospitals, schools, and other population centers is a dangerous escalation,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement, strongly condemning the strike.

The ‘Israel War Room’ account on X, formerly Twitter, said there was “no air activity” by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) at the time of the explosion, and that it “coincided with a salvo of rockets launched at Israel,” suggesting that the “mass casualty event” at the hospital was “the result of a misfired rocket launch by Hamas.”

The Al-Ahli, also known as the Baptist Hospital, is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, an Anglican Christian denomination. It was reportedly full of Palestinians injured by Israeli airstrikes, as well as those who fled their homes after Israel ordered the “evacuation” of the northern part of Gaza Strip.

Hamas launched thousands of missiles at Israel and sent its militants across the border from Gaza on October 7. At least 1,300 Israelis were killed and thousands injured as a result of the surprise incursion, while up to 200 were taken hostage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared “war” on the Palestinian group and vowed to “dismantle” it, launching air and artillery strikes against Gaza amid a widely expected ground invasion of the densely populated territory.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has cited the hospital strike to back out of a planned meeting with US President Joe Biden, who is expected to visit Israel and Jordan on Wednesday.