At least 500 die as Israeli air strike hits Gaza hospital

Palestinians search for casualties under the rubble of a building destroyed by Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on 17 October, 2023.

An Israeli air strike on Tuesday killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza City hospital crammed with patients and displaced people, health authorities in the besieged enclave said.

The reported strike was the bloodiest single incident since Israel launched an unrelenting bombing campaign against Gaza in retaliation for a deadly cross-border Hamas assault on southern Israeli communities on 7 October.

A civil defence chief in Hamas-ruled Gaza said on Al-Jazeera television that more than 300 people were killed at Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital. A Gaza Health Ministry official said at least 500 people were killed and injured.

Hamas said the blast at the hospital mostly killed displaced people. The victims included patients, women and children.

"There are scores of dismembered and crushed bodies, baths of blood," Izzat El-Reshiq, a senior Hamas member, said.

The Israeli military said it did not have any details on the reported bombing.

Earlier on Tuesday, the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said an Israeli air strike had killed at least six people at one of its schools that has been functioning as a shelter for displaced people.

Health authorities in Gaza say at least 3,000 people have been killed in Israel's 11-day bombardment since Hamas fighters rampaged into Israeli towns and kibbutzes on 7 October, killing more than 1,300 people, mainly civilians.

The violence raged as Washington announced that US President Joe Biden would visit Israel on Wednesday to show support for its war on Hamas.

Israel has flattened parts of densely urbanised Gaza with air strikes, driven around half of its 2.3 million population from their homes, and imposed a total blockade on the enclave, halting food, fuel and medical supplies.