On October 17, at 7:30 p.m., Al-Ahli Arabi Hospital in central Gaza City was bombed by Israel. The wounded and sick following the Israeli bombings as well as the hundreds of displaced people who had taken refuge in the hospital and its courtyard were affected by this war crime.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the death of at least 500 people in this attack, including potentially more than a dozen journalists, who took refuge in hospitals to document their situation and recharge their devices. Bodies now litter the rubble and the hospital courtyard.
The crime committed against the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital makes the task of caregivers in Gaza, who are already facing shortages of medical equipment organized by Israel, even more difficult. The capacities of all hospitals in Gaza, including that of Al-Shifa, have been reached, and the wounded and corpses litter the corridors and the floors of the hospices.
Gaza Ministery of Health press conference on how the targeted Al-Ahly (Anglican) Hospital in Gaza City had received warnings by Israel multiple times in the past 2 days, including a couple “knock on roof” drone missiles.
Tonight, the unspeakable happened. They tried to warn you. pic.twitter.com/XVRb5lJVtu
— Jalal (@JalalAK_jojo) October 17, 2023
Since the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza, the World Health Organization has recorded 51 attacks on healthcare workers and health care facilities, which left 11 healthcare workers dead and 16 injured and affected 18 health facilities and 20 ambulances. Areas near Beit Hanoun hospital in Gaza City had already been hit by Israeli bombardment, rendering the hospital inaccessible.
Not taking responsibility for this war crime, members of the Israeli government as well as the army are trying to attribute the attack to other groups, such as the Islamist Jihad, in particular by using a video dating from August 2022 and is not related to the attack on Al-Ahli Arabi hospital. The attack on the hospital was also claimed by the spokesperson for the Israeli government, Hananya Natftali, in a tweet that he has since deleted, and in a Facebook post, also deleted, from the IDF going so far as to speak “euthanasia” of Palestinians in Gaza.
Watching the messaging change in real time after the air force discovered they killed possibly over 500 people. pic.twitter.com/U3sWyH9v0s
— Joe Kassabian (@JoeKassabian) October 17, 2023
This Israeli strategy of blaming other groups for their crimes is well known; it had already been used in the summer of 2022 when Israel killed 5 Palestinian children, as well as after the death of journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. In both cases, the responsibility of the Israeli army was subsequently demonstrated and established.
While meeting Benjamin Netanyahu today, US President Joe Biden affirmed that the attack on the hospital was, according to him, “the work of the opposing party”. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, simply asked for “light to be shed” on the origin of the attack.
Joe Biden on bombed hospital in Gaza: ‘I am extremely distressed and from what I understand Hamas is responsible’ pic.twitter.com/is30ZJ36NP
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) October 18, 2023
Nothing can justify a strike against a hospital. Nothing can justify targeting civilians.
France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital in Gaza which caused so many Palestinian victims. We think of them. All the light must be shed.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 17, 2023
While Israeli propaganda continues to minimize this war crime, like a presenter from the I24 channel, who asked his reporter not to use the word “massacre” in this regard, the secretary general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, says he is “horrified” and calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The WHO president said the situation was out of control, and that “every second we wait for medical help, we lose lives.”
I am horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza today, which I strongly condemn. My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 17, 2023
This lack of firm reactions opens the way to other Israeli war crimes in the hours to come, especially as many countries, including France, oppose a ceasefire.
Palestine Media Agency