Hamas says scores killed as Israel strike hits near Gaza's biggest hospital
Scores of Palestinians were killed and injured on Friday in Israeli targeting of an ambulance convoy carrying critically wounded people in Gaza, the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza claimed.
A government statement said Israeli forces targeted "a convoy of ambulances which was transporting the wounded", while the health ministry said several people were killed in the strike near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, news agency AFP reported. AFP also reported that one of its journalists at the scene saw multiple bodies beside a damaged ambulance.
Health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra earlier said they would send critically injured Palestinians who needed to be urgently transferred for treatment in Egypt from Gaza city and the north to the south.
The latest strike comes shortly after Israel's Prime Minister said there would be no cease-fire in the nearly month-old war until Hamas releases hostages, while the United States urged Israel to ensure more humanitarian aid gets into Gaza and to do more to protect Palestinian civilians,
Israeli troops tightened their encirclement of Gaza City, the focus of their campaign to crush the enclave's ruling Hamas militants, who launched a brutal attack on Israeli communities that started the war.
But ever since that October 7 attack, there have been concerns the conflict could ignite fighting on other fronts, and Israel and the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah have repeatedly traded fire along the Lebanon border.
In his first public speech since the war began, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his group had “entered the battle” with the past weeks' unprecedented cross-border fighting. “We will not be limited to this,” he said, suggesting escalation was possible. Still, Nasrallah stopped short of announcing that Hezbollah is fully engaging in the war.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his third trip to Israel since the war began, reiterated US support for Israel in the war, saying it has the right to defend itself. But he said a “humanitarian pause” was needed to boost aid deliveries to Palestinian civilians amid growing alarm over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
More than 3,700 Palestinian children have been killed in 25 days of fighting, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. Bombardment has driven more than half the territory's 2.3 million people from their homes. Food, water and fuel are running low under Israel's siege, and overwhelmed hospitals warn they are on the verge of collapse.
(With inputs from agencies)