Last week, a missile strike on the parking lot of Ahli Arab Hospital, also known as the Baptist Hospital, in Gaza has caused significant damage and resulted in the loss of Palestinian civilian lives seeking shelter from Israeli airstrikes. While Israel has denied responsibility for the deadly strike, claiming it was a misfired rocket by another Palestinian group, Hamas has dismissed these claims.
According to a Hamas spokesperson, Ghazi Hamad, the missile that struck the hospital has completely vaporized, leaving nothing left to inspect. In a phone interview with the New York Times, Hamad stated, “The missile has dissolved like salt in the water. It’s vaporized. Nothing is left.” Additionally, Salama Maroof, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run government in Gaza, asserted that they are not obligated to present the remnants of every rocket that kills their people, mentioning that researchers can confirm the evidence they possess.
Ahli Arab Hospital, as one of the oldest medical facilities in Gaza, suffered severe damage due to the explosion. Israel has shifted blame onto the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), asserting that one of their missiles malfunctioned and struck the hospital compound. Israel claims that more than 550 rockets launched by Hamas and PIJ during the ongoing conflict have hit their own territory.
When asked to provide evidence for their claim of Palestinian responsibility, the Israeli government declined the request made by the New York Times for logs of Israel Defense Force (IDF) activity in the area at the time. This refusal has raised further questions about the accountability for the deadly strike.
Western reporters who visited the site of the hospital the following morning observed that any remnants of the munition that struck the parking lot had been removed. This raises concerns about the potential tampering of evidence.
Regarding the casualties, initially, Gaza authorities estimated up to 833 deaths from the blast. However, they later revised the number to 471. The Hamas-run health ministry has not released further details about the victims, citing that not all of them have been identified. According to a local doctor quoted by Reuters, more than 3,000 people were seeking shelter inside the hospital compound at the time, including displaced residents affected by Israeli airstrikes.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated after the October 7 attacks by Hamas on nearby villages, towns, and military bases, resulting in the death of around 1,400 Israelis. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas. The Israeli artillery and air strikes have reportedly killed over 4,300 Palestinians, with 40% of them being children, according to Gaza health authorities. This high death toll has sparked international condemnation and has undermined support for Israel’s counterattack.
The hospital attack has drawn widespread condemnation from various international entities and nations. The Arab League, the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization have all expressed their condemnation. Russia, China, India, and Türkiye also condemned the attack and blamed Israel. Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, and Türkiye specifically pointed fingers at Israel. Meanwhile, Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany denounced the attack without explicitly naming the responsible party. US President Joe Biden expressed his outrage and sadness over the explosion but endorsed Israel’s version of events.
The incident at Ahli Arab Hospital serves as another tragic development in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza. As investigations continue to uncover the truth behind the attack, the toll on civilian lives and infrastructure remains alarming. The international community continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and an end to the violence.