As the Israel-Hamas conflict entered the twelfth day running, a devastating explosion has rocked Gaza City hospital, claiming the lives of around 500 Palestinians in what is now a deeply shocking and mournful incident.
The explosion occurred at the Al Ahli Hospital, a place that was intended to provide refuge and treatment to those affected by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. In the aftermath, a web of conflicting narratives and international reactions unfolded, as Hamas, Palestine authorities, and the Arab world blamed Israel for the attack, while Israel asserted that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group’s misfired rockets were responsible. This tragic incident unfolded in the broader context of heightened tensions in the region, leading up to the cancellation of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Jordan where he was supposed to meet top leaders of Jordan, Egypt, and Palestine to felicitate the opening of the border and allowing the aid to enter into the civilian population that is living in a miserable condition in the southern part of Gaza.
THE CONFLICTING NARRATIVES
Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and several countries hold Israel accountable for the explosion, which they claim resulted in the loss of approximately 500 lives. On the other hand, Israel maintains that the hospital blast was a consequence of a misfired rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
The Israeli military has presented its case, offering what it claims an evidence that the hospital blast was caused by a misfired rocket from the PIJ. During an IDF news conference, a transcript of a conversation allegedly intercepted by Israeli intelligence was released.
The transcript allegedly shows two individuals discussing the damage caused by the rocket. The conversation involves one person stating, “They are saying it belongs to PIJ,” to which the other replies, “It’s from us?” The original speaker continues, “They shot it from the cemetery behind the hospital.” The other person responds in disbelief, and they are told, “They shot it coming from the cemetery behind the hospital, and it misfired and fell on them.” The Israeli military asserts that this intercepted conversation confirms the PIJ’s involvement in the hospital explosion.
However, there is still no independent version and confirmation. In the streets of Gaza, the West Bank, the Arab world and many other countries are not ready to accept the theory of Israel’s spokesperson and allege Israeli troops are behind the attack.
It is unlikely that soon, there is going to be an independent investigation. So, claims and counterclaims about one of the worst single losses of civilian Palestinians including patients in a hospital and their caretakers will continue.
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS
The international community is shocked and many countries and organizations have expressed their condemnation of the attack and called for accountability.
President Joe Biden, who is in the region for a crucial diplomatic mission, expressed his outrage at the hospital attack and postponed a planned summit in response. He spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that based on what he had seen, it appeared that the attack was “done by the other team.” He emphasized his deep sadness and outrage at the incident.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament that there was “no excuse for hitting a hospital full of civilians in Gaza” and called the Al Ahli explosion a “senseless tragedy.” She stressed the need for all facts to be established and for those responsible to be held accountable. Additionally, she affirmed Europe’s support for Israel, emphasizing the country’s right to defend itself by international law.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, also joined the chorus of condemnation. He released a statement in which he expressed being “horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza.” He added that hospitals and medical staff “are protected under international humanitarian law” and called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed shock and horror at the hospital blast, emphasising that hospitals should be sanctuaries for preserving human life and should be protected under international humanitarian law.