Palestinian authorities on Tuesday accused Israeli airstrikes of killing at least 500 people in a hospital in Gaza, adding that many more were buried under the rubble.
Israel denied the allegation, saying their investigation found that the explosion was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket that struck the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that the hospital housed “hundreds of patients” as well those displaced by Israeli airstrikes that have bombarded Gaza since Hamas militants’ deadly rampage against Israeli civilians.
Hamas called the hospital attack a “genocide,” and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, declared three days of mourning, local media reported.
The Israel Defense Forces initially said they would investigate the source of the explosion, adding that they do not target sensitive buildings like a hospital and accused Hamas of ”fake reports.” The IDF later issued a statement saying, “From an analysis of the IDF’s operational systems, an enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed in the vicinity of the hospital, when it was hit.”
“They don’t only kill our children, they also kill their own,” Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote on X.
The World Health Organization said it ”strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in north Gaza” and called for Israel’s evacuation orders in Gaza to be reversed. EU chief Charles Michel said “an attack against a civilian infrastructure is not in line with international law.”
The deadly hospital attack comes as U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to travel to Israel on Wednesday. Biden had also planned to meet with Abbas and leaders of Jordan and Egypt in Amman on the same day, but Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi told state media Tuesday that the summit with Mideast leaders would be postponed.
Safadi said that the meetings between leaders would be held “when the decision to stop the war and put an end to these massacres has been taken”. Abbas had earlier pulled out of the meeting, in protest of the attack.
The White House announced late Wednesday that the president would cancel his trip to Jordan and that he sends his condolences to the victims of the Gaza explosion.