Blame game between Israel and Palestine over 500 deaths in Gaza hospital attack

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalOct 18, 2023 | 12:02

Blame game between Israel and Palestine over 500 deaths in Gaza hospital attack

More than 500 civilians died in an attack on a Gaza hospital on October 17, 2023. Photo: AP

The war between Israel and Palestine has led to unprecedented levels of escalation, resulting in over 4,000 casualties. The situation reached a devastating peak on October 17, 2023, when an alleged Israeli air attack targeted a hospital in Gaza, claiming the lives of over 500 civilians.

The attack occurred at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip, with Palestinian officials holding Israel accountable for the tragic incident.


Israel, however, has refuted any involvement in the attack and instead attributed the explosion to a misfired rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group, which has also denied the accusation.

Key points:

  • The hospital is situated in Central Gaza and is operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. At the time of the attack, the building was overwhelmed with thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter amid the airstrikes.
  • According to the Gaza health ministry, in addition to the 500 killed instantly, several others remain trapped beneath the rubble.

Hamas has condemned the attack as a "horrific massacre," pointing to an Israeli airstrike as the cause.

Civilians at the Gaza hospital after the attack on October 17, 2023. Photo: AP

What Israel is saying?

  • The Israeli military has denied any involvement in the attack and has placed the blame on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ(, a smaller militant group operating in conjunction with Hamas.
  • They claimed that Islamic Jihad militants had launched rockets near the hospital and that intelligence from multiple sources indicated the group's responsibility for the attack.
  • Israel's chief army spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated in a military briefing that there were no Israeli air force, ground, or naval attacks at the time of the hospital blast.
  • The Israeli army reported that approximately 450 rockets fired by militant groups had landed in Gaza since Israel commenced its counter-terror operation against Hamas, as reported by AP.

PIJ denies the allegation

The PIJ has vehemently denied Israel's accusation, releasing a statement that reads, "The Zionist enemy is attempting to absolve itself of the brutal massacre it committed by bombing the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza through its usual fabrications and baseless allegations against the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine. We therefore affirm that the enemy's accusations are false and without merit."

Response from US President Joe Biden

  • Following the attack on the Gaza hospital that claimed over 500 lives, US President Joe Biden, who had previously voiced America's support for Israel, publicly condemned the incident.
  • In a statement released by the White House, Biden expressed, "I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and the terrible loss of life that ensued. Upon learning of the news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and have instructed my national security team to continue gathering information on the incident."

  • Biden is scheduled to visit Israel today to discuss potential measures to halt the ongoing war. He also plans to visit Jordan later this week.
  • Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, while condemning the hospital attack, emphasized the importance of shedding light on the circumstances surrounding it.

Reactions from Muslim leaders worldwide

  • Global leaders have been deeply concerned since the outbreak of the major conflict in the Middle East on October 7, 2023.

  • Jordan has canceled a scheduled summit in the capital of Amman with US President Joe Biden and Arab leaders.

  • Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stated that the meeting would only take place when all parties could work towards ending "the war and the massacres against the Palestinians."

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, also expected to attend the summit, condemned the Israeli attack on the Gaza hospital.

Last updated: October 18, 2023 | 12:05
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