Israel Blames Militants for Hospital Explosion

Countries across region condemn alleged Israeli airstrike that killed hundreds in Gaza
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 17, 2023 5:34 PM CDT
Israel's Neighbors Condemn 'Deliberate Bombing' of Gaza Hospital
A Palestinian child wounded in Israeli bombardment is treated in a hospital in Deir al-Balah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.   (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Expressions of condemnation and grief are pouring in after hundreds of people were killed in an explosion at a Gaza City hospital that Hamas attributed to an Israeli airstrike but the Israeli military said was caused by a misfired militant rocket. Countries such as Syria and Saudi Arabia blamed Israel for the blast, with Libya's Foreign Ministry accusing Israel of "war crimes and genocide" in the Gaza Strip, the AP reports. Iraq declared three days of mourning, and hundreds of protesters gathered in central Baghdad.

Egypt's President, Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi, condemned what he called Israel's "deliberate bombing" of Ahli Arab hospital and "a clear violation of international law ... and humanity." Richard Peeperkorn, World Health Organization representative for the West Bank and Gaza, expressed "our deepest grief at the horror that has unfolded," calling it "unprecedented even in a region that has seen consistent attacks on healthcare." A senior Palestinian official says President Mahmoud Abbas has canceled his participation in a meeting scheduled Wednesday with President Biden and other Mideast leaders to protest the alleged Israeli strike. The United Arab Emirates and Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said an Israeli airstrike caused the blast, which officials said killed some 500 people, many of whom had sought shelter from an ongoing Israeli offensive. The Israeli military, however, said Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets near the hospital. "Intelligence from multiple sources we have in our hands indicates that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch," it said. An Islamic Jihad spokesman told Reuters that the Israeli claim is a lie to "cover for the horrifying crime and massacre they committed against civilians."

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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