Gaza's doctors battle to save hospital blast survivors as Middle East rage grows

Gaza's Doctors Battle To Save Hospital Blast Survivors As Middle East Rage Grows
The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli air strike, while Israel’s military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants. Photo: PA Images
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Najib Jobain, Samya Kullab, Ravi Nessman and Matthew Lee, Associated Press

Doctors in Gaza City, faced with dwindling medical supplies, are desperately trying to save severely injured victims of a massive explosion that killed hundreds of Palestinians sheltering in a hospital amid Israeli bombings and a blockade of the territory.

The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli air strike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants.


The Hamas-run health ministry said at least 500 people were killed.

Rage at the hospital carnage spread through the Middle East as US president Joe Biden headed to the region in the hope of stopping a spread of the war, which started after Hamas militants attacked towns and cities across southern Israel last week.

Jordan’s foreign minister said his country cancelled a meeting there between Mr Biden, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Mr Biden will now visit only Israel, a White House official said.

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Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip (Ariel Schalit/AP)

The war between Israel and Hamas is “pushing the region to the brink”, Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi told state-run television.

Israel continued its air strikes on Gaza on Wednesday, according to Gaza’s interior ministry.

The explosion at the al-Ahli Hospital on Tuesday night left gruesome scenes.


Hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge in al-Ahli and other hospitals in Gaza City, hoping they would be spared bombardment after Israel ordered all residents of the city and surrounding areas to evacuate to southern Gaza.

Video that the Associated Press confirmed was from the hospital showed the hospital grounds strewn with bodies, many of them young children, as fire engulfed the building. The grass was strewn with blankets, school backpacks and other belongings.

On Wednesday morning, the blast scene was littered with charred cars and the ground was blackened by debris.

Ambulances and private cars rushed some 350 casualties to Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, which was already overwhelmed with wounded from other strikes, its director Mohammed Abu Selmia said.


Victims arrived with terrible injuries, Gaza's health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said.

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Wounded Palestinians at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City following Israeli air strikes (Abed Khaled/AP)

Doctors in the overwhelmed hospital resorted to performing surgery on floors and in corridors, mostly without anaesthesia.


“We need equipment, we need medicine, we need beds, we need anaesthesia, we need everything,” Mr Abu Selmia said.

He warned that fuel for the hospital’s generators would run out within hours, forcing a complete shutdown, unless supplies enter the Gaza Strip.

The bloodshed unfolded as the US tried to convince Israel to allow the delivery of supplies to desperate civilians, aid groups and hospitals in the tiny Gaza Strip, which has been under a complete siege since Hamas’s deadly rampage last week. Hundreds of thousands of increasingly desperate people are searching for bread and water.

Hamas called Tuesday’s hospital blast “a horrific massacre”, saying it was caused by an Israeli strike.

The Israeli military blamed the blast on Islamic Jihad, a smaller, more radical Palestinian militant group that often works with Hamas.

The military said Islamic Jihad militants had fired a barrage of rockets near the hospital and that “intelligence from multiple sources” indicated the group was responsible.

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Palestinians inspect the damage at al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City (Abed Khaled/AP)

In a briefing with reporters, military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the army determined there were no air force, ground or naval attacks in the area at the time of the blast.

He said radar detected outgoing rocket fire at the same moment, and intercepted communications between militant groups indicated that Islamic Jihad fired the rockets.

He also shared aerial footage collected by a military drone which showed a blast that he said was inconsistent with Israeli weaponry. He said the explosion occurred in the building’s car park, and noted that the death toll could not be confirmed.

Since the war began, the military said in a statement, roughly 450 rockets fired at Israel by militant groups have landed in Gaza, “endangering and harming the lives of Gazan residents”.

Islamic Jihad dismissed those claims, accusing Israel of “trying hard to evade responsibility for the brutal massacre it committed.”

The group pointed to Israel’s order that al-Ahli be evacuated and reports of a previous blast at the hospital as proof that it was an Israeli target. It also said the scale of the explosion, the angle of the bomb’s fall and the extent of the destruction all pointed to Israel.

Before the al-Alhi hospital deaths, Israeli strikes on Gaza had killed at least 2,778 people, nearly two-thirds of them children, and wounded 9,700 others, according to the Gaza health ministry.

A further 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, health authorities said.

Israel Palestinians Daily Photo Gallery
A man sits outside a building destroyed by an Israeli bombardment at the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip (Fatima Shbair/AP)

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in Hamas’s attack on Saturday, October 7th. The assault also resulted in some 200 being taken captive into Gaza.

Militants in Gaza have launched rockets every day since, aiming at cities across Israel.

Protests erupted across the Middle East.

In Amman, Jordan, a palace statement said the king condemned “the ugly massacre perpetrated by Israel against innocent civilians”.

The king “warned that this war, which has entered a dangerous phase, will plunge the region into an unspeakable disaster”, the statement said.

With troops massed along the border, Israel has been expected to launch a ground invasion into Gaza.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, air strikes killed dozens of civilians and at least one senior Hamas figure in the southern half of the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military told fleeing Palestinians to go.

An Associated Press reporter saw around 50 bodies taken to Nasser hospital after strikes in the southern city of Khan Younis.

The Israeli military said it is targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure and command centres.

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Palestinians carrying belongings leave the al-Ahli hospital, where they had been taking shelter (Abed Khaled/AP)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to put the blame on Hamas for Israel’s retaliatory attacks and the rising civilian casualties in Gaza.

“Not only is it targeting and murdering civilians with unprecedented savagery, it’s hiding behind civilians,” he said.

With Israel barring entry of most water, fuel and food into Gaza since Hamas’s attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken secured an agreement with Mr Netanyahu to discuss creation of a mechanism for delivering aid to the territory’s 2.3 million people. But aid was not getting in as of Wednesday morning.

More than a million Palestinians have fled their homes – roughly half of Gaza’s population – and 60 per cent are now in the approximately eight-mile (14km) long area south of the evacuation zone, the UN said.

The Israeli military again called on Palestinians to move out of Gaza City and head south, saying that if aid were to be delivered it would be near the city of Khan Younis in south Gaza.

At the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to Egypt, truckloads of aid have been waiting to enter for more than a day.

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