The Israeli army bombed a convoy of ambulances near the largest hospital in Gaza on Friday, an attack that “horrified” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The facility — Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City — is overcrowded with patients and serves as a refuge for some 20,000 displaced people, according to local health authorities.
The attack resulted in 15 deaths and at least 60 wounded civilians, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS). In a statement, the PRCS said the convoy of five ambulances tried to transport casualties toward the Rafah border crossing, but was returning to the hospital because the road was blocked with rubble when it was targeted by two missiles.
Israel acknowledged that it attacked an ambulance because it was used by the Hamas militia. The Israeli forces have been insisting on the evacuation of this hospital, claiming it houses the underground command center of the Islamist militants.
The Gaza Strip — which is controlled by Hamas and home to 2.3 million people — has been under siege by Israel for nearly four weeks, limiting all access to food, water and fuel in retaliation for the militant group’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,400 people.
According to the Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza, more than 9,200 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s retaliatory ground and air offensive, which as of Thursday evening had led to the encirclement of Gaza City by Israeli forces.
“I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa hospital,” U.N. chief Guterres said Friday evening. “The images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital are harrowing.”
“For nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes,” Guterres added. “This must stop.”
Another Israeli bombing struck a U.N. school in the Jabalia refugee camp, the largest in Gaza, leaving more than a dozen dead and at least 50 injured, according to Hamas.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Tel Aviv on Friday asking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do “more to protect civilians” in Gaza and the West Bank and “everything possible” to allow the entry of humanitarian aid through Egypt, which is limited to dozens of trucks per day, with no fuel.
The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson for Arab media has announced that the Israeli army will allow traffic on the Salah al-Din road for three hours Saturday afternoon.