On Tuesday night, a massive explosion rocked Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of people and injuring many more. The hospital was one of the few functioning medical facilities in the besieged enclave, where a humanitarian crisis has been unfolding amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The blast was so powerful that it shattered windows and damaged buildings in nearby areas. It also sparked a fire that engulfed the hospital compound, making it difficult for rescue workers to reach the victims. Many of the dead and wounded were patients, staff members, and visitors of the hospital.
The exact cause of the explosion remains unclear. Palestinian officials and several Arab leaders have accused Israel of hitting the hospital with an airstrike, as part of its campaign to target Hamas militants and infrastructure in Gaza. Israel has denied any involvement and claimed that the blast was caused by a misfire of a rocket launched by Islamic Jihad, a rival group to Hamas.
The conflicting claims and evidence
Israel has presented evidence that it says supports its version of events. It has released satellite images and video footage that show the trajectory and impact point of the rocket that allegedly hit the hospital. It has also pointed out that the blast occurred at 8:07 p.m. local time, when there was no Israeli aerial activity in the area.
However, Palestinian officials and eyewitnesses have disputed Israel’s claim and insisted that there was no rocket launch from Gaza at that time. They have also questioned the credibility and accuracy of Israel’s evidence, suggesting that it could have been fabricated or manipulated.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has backed Israel’s explanation. US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he had seen US intelligence that confirmed that the blast was caused by a misfire from Gaza. He also expressed his condolences to the victims and their families and called for an end to the violence.
The aftermath and repercussions
The explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital has added to the already high death toll and suffering in Gaza, where more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since the conflict erupted on October 6. The hospital was one of the main providers of health care in Gaza, especially for trauma and orthopedic cases. It had also received international support and donations from various organizations and countries.
The blast has also triggered widespread anger and condemnation across the Middle East and beyond. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in various cities to protest against Israel and express solidarity with the Palestinians. Some of the protests have turned violent, resulting in clashes with security forces and attacks on Israeli diplomatic missions.
The blast has also increased the pressure on the international community to intervene and stop the bloodshed. The United Nations Security Council has held several emergency meetings to discuss the situation, but has failed to agree on a joint statement or resolution. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire and an independent investigation into the incident.