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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Palestinians check the damages after a convoy of ambulances was hit, at the entrance of Shifa hospital in Gaza City November 3, 2023. — Reuters pic
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, Nov 4 — The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has condemned the targeting of a convoy of ambulances in Gaza by Israeli forces yesterday, which it says killed 15 people and wounded more than 60 others.
The PRCS said in a statement early today that one of its ambulances was struck “by a missile fired by the Israeli forces”, about two metres from the entrance to the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
The attack resulted in the deaths of 15 civilians and wounded 60 other people, it said, mirroring figures released earlier by the Hamas-run health ministry.
Another ambulance, belonging to the health ministry, was “directly targeted” by a missile around one kilometre from the hospital, causing injuries and damage, the PRCS said.
Deliberately targeting medical teams constituted “a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, a war crime”, added the organisation, part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
“I am horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa hospital,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement published in the hours after the attack, adding that the conflict “must stop”.
Israel’s military said it had launched an air strike on “an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone”.
“A number of Hamas terrorist operatives were killed in the strike,” a military statement said.
An AFP journalist at the scene of the attack saw multiple bodies beside the damaged ambulance outside the hospital, which is overcrowded with civilians seeking shelter from Israeli bombing as well as those wounded.
In the aftermath of the strike, they saw a child being carried away and a dead horse tied to a cart beside a blood-spattered Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance.
In a series of statements, Hamas denied that its fighters had been inside the ambulances, which it said were hit by Israeli forces while they were transporting the wounded from Gaza City towards the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients close to Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, leading to deaths, injuries and damage”.
“We reiterate: patients, health workers, facilities and ambulances must be protected at all times. Always,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Al-Shifa hospital has a bed occupancy rate of 164 per cent according to the WHO, which on Wednesday warned a shortage of fuel for generators “immediately risks the lives” of patients.
Some 16 hospitals across Gaza are no longer functioning because of damage from strikes and the lack of fuel, according to the health ministry.
More than 23,500 people have been wounded across Gaza in four weeks of war, the ministry said, while the death toll has surpassed 9,200.
Israel began its ferocious aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants launched a cross-border attack on October 7 which killed more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, according to Israeli authorities. More than 240 hostages were also seized during the attack. — AFP
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