Overnight, at least 300 Palestinians, including children, were killed when a rocket hit Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza.
Immediately following the blast, Gazan health authorities said the explosion had been caused by an Israeli airstrike.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have since denied responsibility and said it was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group separate from Hamas that operates in the area.
Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, a representative from Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, said “the ceiling fell on the operating room” where he was performing surgery and described the attack as “a massacre”.
Al Jazeera broadcast a press conference from the hospital, where doctors spoke to media surrounded by the bodies of those killed.
The blast comes as fighting between Israel and Hamas has continued to intensify following Hamas’ unprecedented attack on 7 October, which Israel responded to by declaring war.
Hamas has killed at least 1,400 people, including civilians, according to Israeli authorities. It has also taken nearly 200 people hostage.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israel has killed at least 2,700 people, including civilians. Israel has commenced a “siege” of Gaza until Hamas returns hostages. There is no access to necessities, like food and electricity.
Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, is home to about two million people. About 80% of its population relies on humanitarian aid.
Last week, Israel told residents in north Gaza to evacuate south ahead of an anticipated invasion by Israel’s army.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the hospital at the centre of the most recent attack was one that had faced evacuation orders.
However, WHO said: “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.”
Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, in the city of Rafah, is the only entry and exit for aid. It is currently closed.
Egypt has said Israeli strikes have made it impossible to keep the crossing open for aid, but has also indicated it is not willing to take refugees if the border was open.
Israel has said it will only end the siege when hostages held by Hamas are released.
Hamas took more than 200 hostages during the 7 October attack, including children and Holocaust survivors.
On Tuesday, Hamas released the first footage of its hostages, a video of a 21-year-old French-Israeli woman named Mia Schem, asking to be returned to her family.
In response, the Israeli military said Hamas is “trying to portray itself as a humane organisation, while it is a murderous terrorist organisation responsible for the murder and abduction of babies, women, children and elderly.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed his government is negotiating the release of Schem and other hostages.
U.S. President Joe Biden is in Israel today to meet with Israeli Government officials to discuss support for military and humanitarian actions, including “how [Israel] will conduct its operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties.”
Biden intended to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan, but cancelled the meeting following the hospital’s destruction.
Biden posted on X that he has “directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what
exactly happened [at the hospital].”
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said on Monday that hundreds of Australians had been assisted to leave Israel. A Qatar Airways flight with some of those Australians landed in Sydney last night.
Defence Minister Richard Marles told media yesterday there are 45 Australians in Gaza who have contacted the Government seeking to leave.
Marles said the Government is working alongside international partners to establish a humanitarian corridor out