A couple of days later, the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the middle of Gaza was struck by an air raid, leaving at least 500 people dead, the Gaza Health Ministry reported. The hospital served as a shelter for thousands of residents who fled their homes in northern Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declared three days of mourning following the attack.
A senior U.S. official told ABC News that they "just don't know where the rocket came from." "There was a strong explosion and the ceiling fell on the operating room," Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah from Doctors Without Borders said. "This is a massacre."
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied attacking the medical institution and claimed that a failed launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement caused the blast. "From the analysis of the operational systems of the IDF, an enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed in the vicinity of the hospital, when it was hit," IDF said.
The World Health Organization condemned the attack and called for "the immediate active protection of civilians and health care" workers. This hospital "was one of 20 in the north of the Gaza Strip facing evacuation orders from the Israeli military," the WHO said in a statement. "The order for evacuation has been impossible to carry out given the current insecurity, critical condition of many patients and lack of ambulances, staff, health system bed capacity and alternative shelter for those displaced."
Meanwhile, food, water, fuel and medicines are running dangerously low after Israel imposed blockades on the Palestinian territory. Egypt reportedly agreed to re-open the Rafah border crossing for eight hours and a ceasefire was said to be agreed upon by Egypt, Israel and the U.S. to coincide with the opening of the border crossing, Egyptian security sources said on Monday. However, the borders still have not been opened as of this writing. Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told BBC that from Egypt's perspective, "the Rafah crossing on our side is officially open," but he blamed "aerial bombardments" for making the crossing "inaccessible" and unsafe for aid trucks to cross into Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians are waiting on the Gaza side of the border, while hundreds of vehicles carrying desperately needed aid are parked up on the Egyptian side. Many more aid convoys are also heading towards the border.
The restrictions have mostly been about security concerns in North Sinai where the Egyptian authorities have long been involved in a deadly conflict with jihadists linked to Al Qaeda. But Egypt's apparent reluctance to open the crossing without clear conditions and guarantees may be more about trying to avoid a mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza.
On Tuesday afternoon, an Israeli air strike in the Bureij refugee camp killed senior Hamas armed commander Ayman Nofal of Central Gaza Brigade in Gaza. He was also a member of the organization's General Military Council. The IDF said the airstrike was carried out following intelligence efforts by the Shin Bet security agency and Military Intelligence Directorate. Nofal, as part of his role, carried out "numerous attacks against Israel and security forces" and was "one of the most dominant senior officials in the organization, close to Muhammad Deif," Hamas's military leader, IDF further revealed. It also noted that Nofal was previously involved in the production and development of weapons and had been involved in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilat Shalit in 2006. (Related: Israelis prepare ground invasion as Palestinians scramble to evacuate while IDF bombs continue to fall.)
Meanwhile, reports from Gaza indicated that 14 people had been killed in a strike on a home belonging to the family of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, including his brother and nephew. Haniyeh lives in Qatar.
Israeli forces in recent days have assassinated several Hamas commanders, including a number of individuals who led attacks inside Israel on October 7, when thousands of terrorists burst through the border and ravaged Israeli southern communities. The onslaught left 1,300 dead, most of them civilians. The terror group also abducted at least 200 people.
Terrorism.news has more stories related to the recent bloodbath in the Middle East.