World

Israeli air strike hits tent camp at Gaza hospital

Two Palestinians were killed in the incident at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, which thousands of people have been sheltering.

Palestinians carry an injured person following an Israeli air strike near the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)
Injured Palestinian Palestinians carry an injured person following an Israeli air strike near the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP) (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

An Israeli air strike has hit a tent camp in a hospital compound in central Gaza, killing two Palestinians and injuring another 15.

The strike hit one of several tents in the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where thousands of people have been sheltering for months after fleeing their homes elsewhere in the war-ravaged territory.

Journalists were working from tents nearby, and an Associated Press reporter witnessed the strike and aftermath.

The Israeli military said it struck a command centre of the Islamic Jihad militant group and claimed the hospital’s functioning was not affected.

Tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in Gaza’s hospitals since the start of the war, viewing them as relatively safe from air strikes. Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of operating in and around medical facilities, and troops have raided a number of hospitals.

Protesters in Baghdad, Iraq, chant slogans and wave Palestinian flags to show support for Palestinians in Gaza and to condemn Israeli attacks (Hadi Mizban/AP)
Pro-Palestinian supporters Protesters in Baghdad, Iraq, chant slogans and wave Palestinian flags to show support for Palestinians in Gaza and to condemn Israeli attacks (Hadi Mizban/AP) (Hadi Mizban/AP)

Israeli troops have been raiding Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, for nearly two weeks and say they have fought heavy battles with militants in and around the medical compound. The military says it has killed scores of fighters, including senior Hamas operatives.

Palestinian families who fled from the area, including many who had already been displaced earlier in the war, say they were ordered to march south by Israeli soldiers after days of heavy fighting.

Only a third of Gaza’s hospitals are even partially functioning, even as Israeli strikes kill and wound scores of people every day. Doctors say they are often forced to treat patients on hospital floors because all the beds are taken, and to operate without anaesthetic and other crucial medical supplies.

An international team of doctors who had recently visited Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where Sunday’s strike occurred, said they were horrified by the war’s gruesome impact on Palestinian children.

The war began when Hamas-led militants stormed across the border on October 7 and rampaged across southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and dragging around 250 hostages back to Gaza. More than 100 captives were freed last year in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel responded to the assault with one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history, one that has driven around 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes.

The United Nations and partners have warned that famine could occur in devastated, largely isolated northern Gaza as early as this month. Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road. The top UN court has ordered Israel to open more land crossings and take other measures to address the crisis.

New protests took place in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)
Protesters New protests took place in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government (Maya Alleruzzo/AP) (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that at least 32,782 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, including 77 whose bodies were brought to hospitals over the last 24 hours. The ministry’s count does not differentiate between civilians and fighters, but it has said that women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

Israel says over one-third of the dead are militants, though it has not provided evidence to support that, and it blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group operates in residential areas.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to broker another ceasefire and hostage release since January. Hamas is demanding that any such agreement leads to an end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected those demands and says Israel will keep fighting until it has destroyed Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. But he is under growing pressure to reach a deal from the families of the hostages, some of whom have joined mass demonstrations calling for early elections to replace him.

Ceasefire talks resumed in Cairo on Sunday, but there is little expectation of any breakthrough.