An Israeli air strike on an ambulance convoy near the al-Shifa Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip has killed 15 people and injured 60 others, the health ministry in the Hamas-governed enclave has said.
A convoy of ambulances was transporting critically wounded patients from the Al-Shifa Hospital to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt when it was targeted in an Israeli attack, said Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, on Friday.
“We informed the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, we informed the whole world, that those victims were lined up in those ambulances,” he said. “This was a medical convoy.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that one of its ambulances was targeted in the attack near Al-Shifa and one of their medics Shadi Al-Taif sustained minor shrapnel injuries to the leg, while the ambulance driver Ahmad Al-Madhoon suffered chest bruises.
Palestinian photographer Abdul Hakim Abu Reyash said there were a lot of people and vendors outside al-Shifa hospital at the time of the air-strike, resulting in the killing of a lot of civilians.
He added that the injured were mainly women in the ambulances and around 60-80,000 refugees who had taken refuge in the hospital, were also impacted by the strike.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “utterly shocked” by reports of an attack on ambulances evacuating patients.
“We reiterate, patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times, always,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Israeli military confirmed that one of its aircraft hit an ambulance, saying Israeli soldiers assessed it was being used by a Hamas unit close to their position in the battle zone.
It said that Hamas uses ambulances to transport fighters and weapons and added that a number of Hamas fighters were killed in the attack.
The largest hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa is facing severe overcrowding, with a bed occupancy rate of 164 percent, according to the WHO, amid Israel’s continuing bombardment and blockade of the territory.
At least 16 hospitals across Gaza are no longer functioning due to damage from bombing and a lack of fuel, the Health Ministry said.
The WHO warned Wednesday that the fuel shortage “immediately risks the lives” of the wounded and other patients.
More than 9,200 people have been killed and 23,500 others wounded in Gaza since Israel launched a bombardment of the territory on October 7, according to Palestinian authorities.
The Israeli assault on Gaza came after Hamas fighters killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in an attack on southern Israel, according to Israeli officials