Last Updated: November 06, 2023, 12:01 IST
Tel Aviv/Jerusalem/Gaza City
Palestinians check the damages after a convoy of ambulances was hit, at the entrance of Shifa hospital in Gaza City. (Image: Reuters)
Palestinians are accusing Israelis of attacking an ambulance killing civilians. Israel claimed that the ambulance was sheltering a Hamas operative.
A missile fired by Israeli defence forces (IDF) about two metres from the entrance to the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City early Saturday in an attack that resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians and injured over 60 people, news agency AFP said in a report.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that another ambulance, belonging to the health ministry, was “directly targeted” by a missile. This was one kilometre from the Al-Shifa hospital. Palestinian news agencies claimed that missiles also struck the courtyards of the Indonesian hospital in Gaza and the al-Quds hospital.
All three hospitals have been treating Palestinian civilians who have been wounded and are in critical condition following the Israeli siege of Gaza City launched by the government to retaliate against the deadly terror attacks launched by terrorist group Hamas last month.
The PRCS, part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, added that deliberately targeting medical teams constituted “a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, a war crime”.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “utterly shocked” by the strike.
“We reiterate: patients, health workers, facilities and ambulances must be protected at all times. Always”, he said.
Israel defended its stance by claiming that the ambulance was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone, according to a report by AFP.
The Hamas’ so-called political wing said Israeli forces struck a convoy of ambulances and claimed they were transporting the wounded from Gaza City towards Rafah in the south of the territory.
The Hamas-run health ministry also said that some 16 hospitals across Gaza have been rendered non-functional due to Israeli airstrikes. They claimed that more than 23,500 people have been wounded across Gaza in four weeks of war. The death toll in Gaza City has surpassed 9,200.
Israel began its ferocious aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip after Hamas terrorists launched a cross-border attack on October 7 which killed more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, according to Israeli authorities. More than 240 hostages were also seized during the attack, news agencies have said.
Citing this, Israel has said there will be no pause in fighting, brushing aside requests made by the US government who dispatched its secretary of state Antony Blinken yesterday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu declined to enact a temporary humanitarian truce as Israeli ground forces encircle Gaza’s largest city. He reiterated that the IDF is targeting Hamas operatives, weapons stores, tunnel complexes, drone launching posts and command centres.
Israel says it has struck 12,000 targets across the Palestinian territory since “Operation Iron Swords” began on October 7. The IDF repeated its message to Gazan civilians and told them to leave the area.
“We emphasise that this area in Gaza is a war zone. Civilians are repeatedly called upon to evacuate southward for their own safety,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
The US urged Israel for “humanitarian pauses” so that hostages can be rescued from the blockaded coastal enclave but Israel has not shown any inclination to follow the advice.