From the frontlines of the Israel-Palestine war, String Reveals brings you daily despatches by journalist Allan Sorensen, Middle East Correspondent for Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, giving insights and gripping first-hand accounts from the war-torn region.
Minutes after a heavy barrage of long distance rockets was fired from Gaza towards the Tel Aviv area in Israel Tuesday night, the first grim pictures of a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital appeared.
At least 500 Palestinians were killed in the explosion at the al-Ahli Baptist hospital in Gaza. In the immediate aftermath the two sides blamed each other for the explosion.
All Palestinian groups in Gaza blame Israel for the attack, calling it a massacre and a war crime.
Jordan rushed to cancel the planned summit on Wednesday with US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas earlier withdrew from the meeting due to the attack on the hospital in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed the blame on Islamic Jihad, a militant group in Gaza. In a statement on X (former Twitter) he wrote: “The entire world should know – it was the barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital, and not the IDF. Those who brutally murdered our children also murdered their own children.”
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari also put the blame on Islamic Jihad. In a public video statement late Tuesday he said:
“I can confirm that an analysis of the IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the deadly hospital attack.
“I am horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza today, which I strongly condemn,” Guterres said on X.
“My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law,” he wrote.
Arab representatives at the UN have called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The Palestinian UN ambassador urges the international society to stop Israel’s “crimes against humanity”.
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the attack on the hospital an act of “genocide” and a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
On social media, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the attack and blamed Israel.
“Hitting a hospital containing women, children and innocent civilians is the latest example of Israel’s attacks devoid of the most basic human values,” he said.
“I invite all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in Gaza.”
Late Tuesday night, spontaneous demonstrations against Israel were held in several Middle Eastern capitals. The Lebanese Hezbollah militia responded to the hospital attack by declaring Wednesday “a day of unprecedented anger”.
Tension between Israel and Hezbollah has been growing the past week. Tuesday was no exception. Hezbollah fired at least six anti-tank missiles into Israeli cities close to the border, and rockets hit the Israeli city of Kiryat Shemona. Israel retaliated by targeting Hezbollah positions in the southern parts of Lebanon.
The US State Department raised the threat level for Lebanon in its travel advisory for the Middle Eastern country to level 4 last night. This is the highest possible level.
At the same time, family members of the official US staff working in Lebanon can now leave the country. The same applies to some government employees at the US embassy in the country’s capital, Beirut.
In Gaza, more than 3,000 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began in the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel on Saturday, October 7. Some 1,400 Israelis were killed in the attack.
The humanitarian crisis inside Gaza is escalating. Hospitals are no longer able to treat the rising number of wounded. Although a humanitarian aid convoy for Gaza has arrived at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, Israel has still not allowed the convoy to enter Gaza. More than 100 trucks with food, water and medicine are waiting on the Egyptian side of the border, and there is no confirmation about when the convoy will be allowed into Gaza.
After arriving in Israel on Wednesday President Biden is expected to take part in a meeting with the Israeli war cabinet at the headquarters in Tel Aviv. Biden is also expected to demand that Israel allow emergency aid to enter Gaza. Earlier this week, Israel rejected a plea from US and Egypt to make aid to Gaza possible.
Large numbers of Palestinians are still heading to the southern parts of Gaza after Israel ordered them to leave the northern areas.
An estimated 6,00,000 Palestinians have fled the northern areas out of a total 1.1 million in these areas. More than one million residents have been displaced in Gaza, which has a population of 2.3 million.
The Danish branch of Doctors Without Borders evacuated its staff from the northern parts of Gaza on Tuesday. In a statement, the aid organization said it had moved its staff to the southern part of Gaza due to the dangerous conditions in the northern parts.
In a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he was willing to help prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
In a phone call with Biden, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi warned that an escalation of the conflict in Gaza could threaten regional security. The Egyptian President has rejected the idea of letting Palestinians from Gaza flee to safety in the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai. Scores of Palestinians are sleeping at the Rafah border area between Gaza and Egypt, waiting for the border crossing to be opened.
(Allan Sorensen is the Middle East correspondent for the Danish daily newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad.)
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.