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18 Oct, 2023 22:24

RT correspondent loses five family members in Gaza hospital attack

Four more of Saed Swerki’s relatives have died over the past week

RT Arabic’s Saed Swerki held back tears on Wednesday evening as he reported from the Gaza City hospital, where hundreds perished the evening prior, five of them his own relatives.

As Swerki reported live from the Ahli Arab Hospital, he revealed that his family members – a cousin and her children – were among those killed on Tuesday evening. The exact number of casualties from the explosion is still being established, though the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has claimed at least 450 have died and over 1,000 were wounded.

It was the second time in a week that Swerki had lost family members. Four of his in-laws were killed on October 11, when their high-rise was obliterated by Israeli bombing. 

“Now is not the time to grieve, otherwise you might lose your mind,” Swerki told RT Arabic on Wednesday. “Now is the time to send a message to the whole world that there are people who do not want to die in silence. By the will of God, we have become the voice of those who are voiceless.”

“Sometimes we struggle with our emotions because we have small children, parents, and grandchildren,” he added. “For example, when I’m on the air and hear some kind of explosion, I immediately fear that my grandson has just been torn to pieces. Such is fate in the time of war.”

A bomb or a missile struck the hospital compound around 6:30pm local time on Tuesday, shattering windows and injuring many civilians, both inside and outside of the facility.

More than 3,000 people had sought refuge at the hospital at the time of the strike, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Naqa told Reuters. Many Gaza residents were seeking shelter on hospital grounds because Israel had ordered the entire north half of the territory to “evacuate” or be bombed, but there was nowhere to go.

Israel swiftly denied responsibility for the explosion, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claiming that a misfire from a “barrage of rockets [that] was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity” was to blame. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited military intelligence to blame Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the militant groups operating in Gaza. PIJ rejected Israel’s claims as “completely incorrect” and accused the IDF of “trying to cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians.”

The attack was condemned by the Arab League, the African Union, the EU, UN, and World Health Organization, as well as Russia, China, India, and Türkiye. Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, and Türkiye blamed Israel. Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany denounced the attack but did not name the culprit. US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion” but endorsed Israel’s version of events.

Netanyahu declared war on Hamas in Gaza after the group attacked nearby villages and military bases on October 7, killing an estimated 1,300 Israelis, according to the government in West Jerusalem.