Tragedy unfolds as Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza becomes battleground

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GK NEWS

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.

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) condemned the strike on the hospital and said that they “are horrified by the recent bombing” of the hospital that was treating patients and sheltering displaced Gazans.

The African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat on X said, “There are no words to fully express our condemnation of Israel’s bombing of a #Gaza hospital today, killing hundreds of people,” Faki called for the international community to act.

Qatar’s foreign ministry called the strike “a brutal massacre” and “a heinous crime against defenceless civilians.” Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the strike as a “shockingly dehumanizing crime” and called on Israel to provide satellite imagery to prove its innocence. Saudi Arabia decried the hospital strike as a “flagrant violation of all international laws and norms” and denounced Israel’s “continuous attacks against civilians.”

The Arab League chief, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, called for an immediate end to the tragedy and questioned the moral compass of those who intentionally targeted a hospital. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decried the attack as a violation of basic human values and called on humanity to act against this brutality. The United Arab Emirates stressed the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the protection of civilians following the international humanitarian law.

HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS

The casualty count on both sides has risen significantly during the 12 days of intense conflict. Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila reported a death toll of 3,300 in Gaza, with another 13,000 injured. On the Israeli side, at least 1,400 people have lost their lives due to the recent wave of attacks. Additionally, at least 199 Israelis have been taken hostage, further exacerbating the human cost of this ongoing conflict.

These numbers underscore the dire humanitarian situation in the region. Civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, are bearing the brunt of the violence. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and around a million people are out of their homes and living places, facing shortages of food, essential medical care, and shelter for those affected by the hostilities.

DIPLOMATIC IMPASSE

President Biden’s visit to the Middle East, which was initially aimed at diplomacy and mediating for aid supplies, has been overshadowed by the tragic hospital explosion. This incident has shaken trust in the peace process, making any diplomatic progress a formidable challenge. The initial plan for President Biden’s visit was to use it as leverage to create safe areas for civilians in Gaza, facilitate humanitarian aid, and encourage talks between the warring parties.

The hope was to involve Arab allies as mediators to foster trust and work towards the release of hostages. However, the recent hospital explosion has further complicated an already delicate situation. The deep mistrust between the parties involved and the volatile environment make these goals increasingly challenging to achieve.

CONCLUSION

The Al Ahli Hospital tragedy has added a new layer of complexity to the already contentious Israel-Hamas conflict. With conflicting narratives and international condemnations, the quest for accountability and a path toward peace remains uncertain. The human toll, on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, continues to rise, underscoring the urgency of a resolution to this long-standing and deeply tragic conflict. As the world watches, the region grapples with the profound loss of life, the challenges of providing humanitarian aid, and the pressing need for diplomacy to bring an end to the violence that has afflicted this land for decades.

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