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Hundreds dead in explosion at Gaza hospital (Gaza Health Ministry)

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At least 500 people were killed in an explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the middle of Gaza City, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The hospital served as a refuge for thousands of residents who fled their homes in northern Gaza, seeking safety from Israeli airstrikes. Residents stranded in Gaza lack medicine, food, water and electricity.

People gather around the bodies of Palestinians killed in an airstrike on the Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza after they were transported to Al-Shifa Hospital, October 17, 2023.

Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli military denied responsibility for the blast, saying the blast was caused by the failure to launch Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

“Based on the analysis of IDF operational systems, a barrage of enemy rockets was carried out towards Israel, which was passing near the hospital, when it was hit,” the IDF said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “It was the barbaric terrorists from Gaza who attacked the hospital. »

However, at this point, U.S. officials “just don’t know where the rocket came from,” a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

PHOTO: Relatives mourn the bodies of Palestinians killed in an airstrike on the Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza after being transported to Al-Shifa Hospital, October 17, 2023.

Relatives mourn the bodies of Palestinians killed in an airstrike on the Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza after being transported to Al-Shifa Hospital, October 17, 2023.

Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah of Médecins Sans Frontières was operating at the time.

“There was a loud explosion and the ceiling of the operating room collapsed,” he said. “It’s a massacre.”

PHOTO: Wounded Palestinians lie at al-Shifa hospital following airstrikes in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023.

Injured Palestinians lie at al-Shifa hospital following airstrikes in Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, October 17, 2023.

Abed Khaled/AP

President Biden said in a written statement Tuesday evening that he was “outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and the terrible loss of life that resulted.”

His statement continued: “Immediately after hearing this news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and asked my national security team to continue gathering information on what is happening. ‘exactly happened. The United States unequivocally stands for protection. of civilian life during the conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocent people killed or injured in this tragedy”,

The World Health Organization condemned the attack on the hospital and called for “immediate active protection of civilians and healthcare workers.”

This hospital “was one of 20 in the north of the Gaza Strip facing evacuation orders from the Israeli army,” the WHO said in a statement. “The evacuation order was impossible to carry out given the current insecurity, the critical condition of many patients and the lack of ambulances, staff, bed capacity of the health system and alternative shelters for displaced people.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said Tuesday that Gaza hospitals had less than 24 hours of fuel left.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning following the attack.

ABC News’ Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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