By now, you’re probably already aware of the Israel-Gaza conflict.
War is always terrible, and this one is no exception.
Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in a massive explosion at a crowded hospital in Gaza City.
A Gaza civil defence chief told international media network Al-Jazeera that more than 300 people were killed, while a Gaza Health Ministry source said at least 500 people were killed.
Notably, both departments are under the Hamas-run government.
Nonetheless, this incident marks the most significant loss of life in all five wars between Hamas and Israel since 2007.
Here’s everything you need to know about the tragedy.
Hundreds Killed in Hospital Explosion
The explosion comes only 11 days into the new war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The incident occurred at around 7.30 pm local time on 17 October at a hospital called al-Ahli al-Arabi, also known as the Baptist Hospital.
The Anglican church owns the hospital and was reportedly attacked without prior warning.
This isn’t the first time it has been attacked.
On Saturday, a rocket hit the hospital, injuring four medical staff.
At the time of the incident, the hospital was swamped with people who had been injured in previous Israeli strikes.
Other people present at the hospital included civilians seeking shelter.
They had believed that the hospital was safer than their homes.
After all, Israeli attacks had already killed more than 3,000 people.
Video footage by Al-Jazeera depicted the hospital building being consumed by a massive fire.
Bodies and widespread debris were scattered around.
Horrifyingly, the bodies of small children could be seen as well.
More than 300 casualties were taken to the city’s main hospital, al-Shifa, via ambulances and private cars.
Unfortunately, the hospital was already overwhelmed with injured people.
Wounded people reportedly lay on the bloody floors, screaming in pain.
The health ministry in Gaza noted that hundreds of other victims remained under the debris and rubble.
Hamas said that victims mainly consisted of displaced people.
It added that the victims included patients, women and children.
Dr Ghasssan Abu Sittah, who worked at al-Ahli al-Arabi, said, “We were operating in the hospital, there was a strong explosion, and the ceiling fell on the operating room.
“This is a massacre.”
The doctor proceeded to condemn the attack.
He said, “Nothing justifies this shocking attack on a hospital and its many patients and health workers, as well as the people who sought shelter there.
“Hospitals are not a target. This bloodshed must stop. Enough is enough.”
Another doctor, Dr Ziad Shehadah, told Al-Jazeera that many victims believed the hospital would be safe.
He noted that hospitals are supposed to be a safe place, according to international law.
Who was Responsible for the Strike?
The answer may be more complicated than you think.
The health ministry in Gaza said an Israeli air raid caused the hospital explosion.
However, Israel said the explosion was due to a misfired rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.
The PIJ has denied the allegation.
The group operates inside the Gaza Strip.
In a social media post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “An analysis of IDF [Israel’s army] operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit.
“Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launched which hit the hospital in Gaza.”
On PIJ’s end, the group has denied the allegations.
It said, “The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre he committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital in Gaza through his usual fabrication of lies, and through pointing the finger of blame at the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine.
“We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless.”
Thus, it is still unconfirmed as to who is responsible for the explosion.
Response from World Leaders
World leaders have denounced the bombing.
Protests have also erupted across the Middle East in response to the tragedy.
Notably, news of the hospital blast came out on the eve of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel.
German Chancellor Olad Scholz was visiting the area on Tuesday.
President Biden was supposed to arrive in Tel Aviv on 18 October for talks with Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders.
However, he will no longer meet the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders for a summit in Jordan as it was cancelled following the hospital blast.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stated that the meeting was supposed to be held at a time when the leaders could agree towards ending the “war and the massacres against Palestinians”.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi condemned the hospital blast.
Saudi Arabia also issued a statement condemning the incident.
While Western leaders did not blame Israel for the strike, French President Emmanuel posted on social media site X, “Nothing can justify striking a hospital. Nothing can justify targeting civilians.
“France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, which made so many Palestinian victims. Our thoughts are with them. All the light must be shed on the circumstances.”
President Biden has also responded to the incident.
He said, “Deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza.”
Attacks on Other Vulnerable Locations
Before the hospital strike on Tuesday, another attack occurred.
The United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) said an Israeli air strike on a school killed at least six people.
The school had been functioning as a shelter for displaced people.
According to UNRWA, dozens of people were injured.
Furthermore, the strikes caused “severe structural damage” to the school.
There were at least 4,000 people seeking shelter at the school.
Israel’s military said it was “still ironing out all the details” regarding the reports of the hospital and school strike.
Health authorities in Gaza said at least 3,000 people have been killed since Israel’s intense bombardment began 11 days ago.
Even refugee camps aren’t safe from the bombings.
Of the eight refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, most have been targeted by Israeli warplanes.
More than 1,100,000 registered refugees lived in these camps.
Entire families have been massacred.
In addition, the camps had more people than usual as people fled there to stay with friends and relatives.
They believed that Israel would not target densely populated areas with refugees.