The attack on the hospital in Gaza is the deadliest Israeli airstrike since 2008.
Qatar has condemned a “brutal massacre” following an Israeli airstrike targeting the Christian-run Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday that killed more than 500 Palestinians seeking treatment and shelter.
“The State of Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation’s bombing of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, and considers it a brutal massacre, a heinous crime against defenceless civilians, and a blatant violation of the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law,” the Gulf state’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Qatar said “the expansion of Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip to include civilian objects, including hospitals, schools, and population centres, is considered a dangerous escalation.”
“It also warns in this context that the complicity of the international community, sometimes with silence and sometimes with selectivity, regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will increase the state of tension, expand the cycle of violence,” the statement added.
The Gulf state called on the international community “to assume its responsibility and deter Israel from committing more crimes against civilians.”
Hundreds of Palestinians who were forcibly displaced from their homes were taking shelter at the hospital when it was targeted by Israel on Tuesday night. The facility has also been at the centre of life saving treatment for hundreds of civilians wounded by Israel’s days-long brutal bombing campaign on the besieged Strip.
Shocking footage that emerged online showed the moment a missile struck the hospital in the darkness of the night. Other videos depicted the devastating aftermath of the strike, with bodies and limbs strewn across the area as desperate relatives looked for their loved ones.
Ziad Shehadah, a medical doctor and resident of Gaza, told Al Jazeera that while the death toll is more than 500, he believes it will exceed 1,000. So far, Israel’s 11-day war on Gaza has killed more than 3,000, including at least 1,000 children.
“What’s happened is terrible because those people, all of them, are civilians. They fled their homes and reached a place that they believed was safe – a hospital, which according to international law, is a safe place,” Shehadah said.
The Palestinian Civil Defence has officially declared the attack on the hospital in Gaza as the deadliest Israeli air strike in the last five wars since 2008.
“The massacre at al-Ahli Arab Hospital is unprecedented in our history. While we’ve witnessed tragedies in past wars and days, what took place tonight is tantamount to a genocide,” Mahmoud Basal, the spokesman of the Palestinian Civil Defence, said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack on the hospital, which occurred as he was scheduled to meet with regional leaders in Jordan.
However, Abbas departed Amman and returned to the West Bank, where protests broke out against the massacre. Other protests have erupted in the region, including Amman, Idlib, Tunis, and Beirut.
In a televised address, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh blamed the United States for the attack and said it only showed the extent of Israel’s “defeat”.
“The US holds the responsibility of the hospital attack because of the cover it gives to the Israeli aggression,” Haniyeh saidshortly after the attack.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the attack at the hospital and called for the “immediate active protection of civilians and health care.”
“WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital in north Gaza. Early reports indicate hundreds of deaths and injuries. We call for the immediate protection of civilians and health care, and for the evacuation orders to be reversed,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency’s chief, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The latest Israeli strike exacerbates the challenges at the Al Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, which is already overwhelmed with thousands injured by Israel’s escalating aggression.