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'Stop this tragedy immediately': World reacts to blast at Gaza hospital

At least 500 people have been killed in the blast, which officials believe was caused by an Israeli air raid

israel, gaza, israel-gaza war, war

Photo: AP

BS Web Team New Delhi
After relentless Israeli attacks, hundreds of injured people and civilians sought shelter in a hospital in Gaza City, believing it to be the safest place. However, at 7:30 pm, a rocket struck al-Ahli al-Arab, also known as the Baptist Hospital, and the multi-storey building was reduced to rubble in no time, with bodies, bloodstains, and debris scattered all around.

According to Palestinian officials, at least 500 people have been killed in the blast, which they believe was caused by an Israeli air raid. Israel, on the other hand, attributed the incident to a misfired rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group.

This is the highest death toll from a single attack in Gaza, and it comes as US President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit Tel Aviv, but the trip was cancelled due to the hospital attack. The bombing has been condemned by world leaders, with politicians expressing strong sentiments.

Here are some of the early key reactions:

United States (US)

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he was "outraged" by the deadly explosion at Gaza hospital.

"The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict, and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy," Biden said.

African Union

The African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat accused Israel of a "war crime" following the deadly strike.

"There are no words to fully express our condemnation of Israel's bombing of a Gaza hospital today, killing hundreds of people," Faki said on X, formerly Twitter, calling for the international community to act.

European Union (EU)

European Union chief Charles Michel said that targeting civilian infrastructure in Gaza breaks international law.

"An attack against civilian infrastructure is not in line with international law," Michel said after a videoconference of EU leaders.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell wrote on social media that "the news coming from the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital in Gaza adds horror to the tragedy unfolding before our eyes for days."

France

French President Emmanuel Macron said "nothing can justify targeting civilians" after a deadly strike on the Gaza hospital. He also called for humanitarian access to the coastal strip "without delay".

"Nothing can justify a strike against a hospital. Nothing can justify targeting civilians. France condemns the attack on the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital in Gaza, which caused so many Palestinian victims. We think of them," he wrote on X.

"Humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip must be opened without delay," he added.

Palestine

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the air raid as an act of "genocide" and a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Jordan

In a statement on Tuesday, the Jordanian foreign ministry strongly condemned Israel's attack and emphasised the need for international protection for Palestinian civilians and an end to the fighting.

King Abdullah II said Israel's bombing of Gaza hospital was a "massacre" and a "war crime" that one cannot be silent about.

Egypt

The Egyptian government has issued a statement denouncing the attack "in the strongest terms", calling on the international community to step in and prevent further violations.

Qatar

Qatar's foreign ministry said the attack marked a dangerous escalation.

"The expansion of Israeli attacks over the Gaza Strip to include hospitals, schools, and other population centres is a dangerous escalation," it said.

World Health Organization (WHO)

"WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital", the UN health agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on the social media platform X, adding that 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," he added.

The Arab League

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that international leaders must "stop this tragedy immediately" in response to the attack.

"What diabolical mind intentionally bombards a hospital and its defenceless inhabitants?" he wrote in a social media post, saying that "Arab mechanisms will document these war crimes, and the criminals will not get away with their actions."

UN Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk called the hospital strike unacceptable, insisting that the perpetrators must be held accountable.

"Words fail me. Tonight, hundreds of people were killed — horrifically — in a massive strike at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, including patients, healthcare workers and families that had been seeking refuge in and around the hospital," he said.

"Once again the most vulnerable. This is totally unacceptable," he added.

Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the attack in a statement on social media.

"Hitting a hospital containing women, children and innocent civilians is the latest example of Israel's attacks devoid of the most basic human values. I invite all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in Gaza," he said.

Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack and stressed the importance of adhering to the laws of war.

"The news coming out of Gaza is horrific and absolutely unacceptable … international law needs to be respected in this and in all cases. There are rules around wars and it's not acceptable to hit a hospital," Trudeau told reporters.

Iran

Iran's foreign ministry also denounced the air raid as an attack on "unarmed and defenceless people", Iranian state media reported.

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First Published: Oct 18 2023 | 1:05 PM IST

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