Deadly Israel strike on Gaza ambulance convoy sparks condemnation

AFP , Saturday 4 Nov 2023

An Israeli strike on a Gaza ambulance convoy has killed 15 people, Palestinian medics said Saturday, spurring concerns for health workers' safety amid relentless Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian territory.

Al Shifa hospital
People surround the bodies of people killed a day earlier in an Israeli strike that hit the entrance of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, during a funeral held for the victims on November 4, 2023. AFP


More than 9,200 people have been killed so far in Israel's grisly airstrikes on Gaza that have hit hospitals and medical facilities already faced with severe shortages of fuel and supplies.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said in a statement one of its ambulances had been struck "by a missile fired by the Israeli forces", about two metres (6.5 feet) from the entrance to Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

The strike on Friday killed 15 people and wounded 60 others, it said, mirroring figures released earlier by the Palestinian health ministry.

An AFP journalist at the scene saw multiple bodies beside the damaged ambulance outside the hospital.

Another ambulance, belonging to the health ministry, was "directly targeted" by a missile around one kilometre (0.6 miles) from the hospital, causing injuries and damage, the PRCS said.

According to the PRCS, the convoy of five ambulances left Al-Shifa hospital shortly after 4:00 pm (1400 GMT)  and headed south from Gaza City towards the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

The convoy, consisting of four ambulances from the Palestinian health ministry and one belonging to the PRCS, had to turn back after hitting a stretch of road "blocked by large quantities of rubble and rocks" due to shelling, the statement said.

As the ambulances headed back towards the hospital, a first "missile" strike hit a health ministry ambulance, damaging the vehicle and injuring the people inside, according to the PRCS.

A second deadly strike hit the PRCS ambulance, carrying a wounded woman, as it approached Al-Shifa's gates, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

It said "the deliberate targeting of medical teams constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, a war crime."

UN 'horrified'

More than 23,500 people have been wounded across Gaza in four weeks of war, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Some 16 hospitals across Gaza are no longer functioning because of damage from strikes and the lack of fuel, according to Gaza Palestinian authorities.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement he was "horrified by the reported attack in Gaza on an ambulance convoy outside Al-Shifa hospital".

He added that the deadly fighting "must stop".

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was "utterly shocked" by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients.

Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest, has a bed occupancy rate of 164 percent according to the WHO, which on Wednesday warned a shortage of fuel for generators "immediately risks the lives" of patients.

The same day, Israeli jetfighters struck the vicinity of Al-Quds in the southwest of Gaza City and the vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital in Beil Lahia in northern Gaza.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

Short link: