A rocket strike hit a hospital in Gaza late on Tuesday. The strike killed hundreds of Palestinians, according to the Hamas-led Gaza health ministry.
While world leaders have condemned the incident and protests have erupted around the Arab world and Muslim countries, Israel and Palestinian militant groups have traded blame for the strike.
At around 1700 GMT on Tuesday, the health ministry in Gaza said an Israeli air strike had hit the Christian-run Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza City. Israel denied it was responsible, pinning the blame on a misfired rocket aimed at Israeli territory fired by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad from inside Gaza near the hospital.
The Gaza health ministry said at least 471 people had been killed and over 300 wounded, some in critical condition.
The AFP correspondents saw dozens of bodies at the scene. Medics and civilians recovered bodies wrapped in white cloth, blankets or black plastic bags. Bloodstains and torched cars could be seen in the hospital courtyard.
Images of the hospital after the strike published by the Maxar satellite monitoring group show the hospital buildings mainly appeared to be intact.
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Maxar said their images reveal “a probable discoloured blast area in the main parking area of the hospital compound” with no “significant structural damage to the adjacent buildings”.
Violence has spiralled since Hamas militants on October 7 stormed out of Gaza and across the border into southern Israel and shot, stabbed and burnt to death more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
At least 3,478 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip both in Tuesday’s hospital strike, and in Israel’s reprisals against the tiny territory for the October 7 attack, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
Since the start of the Israeli reprisals, tens of thousands of families have flocked to Gaza’s overwhelmed hospitals seeking refuge.
What do both sides say?
While Hamas immediately said the damage came from an Israeli air strike, the Israeli army said Gaza militants from another Palestinian group — Islamic Jihad — had caused the explosion with a misfired rocket.
“The evidence — which we are sharing with you all — confirms that the explosion at the hospital in Gaza was caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told a press conference in Tel Aviv.
He said no Israeli army fire “by land, sea or air” hit the hospital and said Israel’s trajectory analysis showed the rockets were fired “in close proximity to the hospital.”
Islamic Jihad has said that Israel was trying to evade responsibility for the deaths.
“We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless,” the group said.
Hamas said in a statement Israel “is directly responsible for this horrific massacre which was carried out… with American weapons only the occupation possesses”.
Israel has denied that the explosion was caused by its own Iron Dome missile defence system, which seeks to protect Israeli territory from Gaza rocket attacks, with Hagari saying the system is not used to “intercept rockets inside Gaza” but prevent them from hitting Israeli territory.
How has the world reacted?
US President Joe Biden, on a trip to Israel to show solidarity, said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the hospital explosion and backed Israel’s account.
“Based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears as a result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza,” he added, after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
Hamas has accused the US government of being “complicit in the occupation’s massacres”.
Governments in Arab countries and the wider Muslim world have largely backed Hamas’s accounts of the incident, expressing outrage at Israeli strikes on civilian populations.
Even countries with diplomatic relations with Israel, such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, blamed Israel for the strike.
Thousands of protesters rallied in countries from Lebanon to Morocco, Iran and Turkey, late Tuesday and more demonstrations began Wednesday following calls for a “day of rage” across the region.
Governments in Europe have condemned the explosion, but without attributing blame.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said there is “no excuse for hitting a hospital full of civilians” in Gaza, but did not apportion blame for the blast.
Russia described the strike as a “crime” and an “act of dehumanisation”, calling on Israel to provide proof it was not involved.
Army Plans Review Of Operational Engagement
The Nigerian Army will be evaluating and comprehensively reviewing ongoing operational engagements in all the theatres of operations across the six geo-political zones.
This will enable the service to make decisions that will help in effectively tackling the security challenges bedeviling the country.
A statement on Friday by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Nwachukwu Onyema noted that the service would be embarking on the review among others at the Chief of Army Staff’s conference slated to hold in Maiduguri between December 10 and 16.
The statement partly read, “Nigerian Army will take stock, evaluate and comprehensively review ongoing operational engagements of the NA in all theatres of operations across the six geo-political zones within the year, among other key agenda.
“This will provide the NA an in-depth insight to make far-reaching decisions that will be result-oriented towards achieving its set objective of addressing multifaceted security challenges in the country.”
Onyema said the week-long conference is an important annual event in the calendar of the Nigerian Army due to its significance to National security, peace, and stability.
He added that the event would also allow the Chief of Amry Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja to have an interaction with the field commanders.
The statement stated, “The Conference would also create an opportunity for the COAS to have face-to-face interaction with the General Officers Commanding, Field Commanders, and other senior officers to provide requisite guidance on enhancing NA operations and activities. The conference will be declared open on Monday 11 December 2023.
“The President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency, Bola Tinubu is expected to grace the occasion as the Special Guest of Honour.
“The Opening Ceremony will feature an address to troops of Joint Task Force North East Operation Hadin Kai inspection of the ongoing Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Maiduguri and laying of the foundation stone of Headquarters 7 Division by the Special Guest of Honour. “
Putin To Run Again For President In 2024
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has decided to run in presidential elections next March, news agencies reported Friday, allowing the Kremlin leader to extend his decades-long grip on power.
Putin told Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Zhoga, a Russian military officer, about his decision to participate in the upcoming vote following an awards ceremony for army personnel at the Kremlin, state-run news agencies reported.
”The president has said that he will run for president of the Russian Federation,” Zhoga was cited as saying by state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
”We all—I say this with confidence—in the reunited territories, all of Russia, support him. We are very happy that he heard our request” to participate, Zhoga added, referring to the Ukrainian territories Moscow claims as its own.
Putin, however, has yet to make a formal announcement that he will compete in the vote scheduled to take place between March 15 and 17 next year.
“Our president has never avoided and does not avoid responsible decisions,” said Valentina Matvienko, the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament.
“And today he has once again confirmed this. He confirmed that at the moment of a historic choice and a historic challenge,” she added.
Putin will not face any major challengers and will likely seek as big a mandate as possible to conceal domestic discord over the Ukraine conflict, analysts say.
Rockets Fired At US Embassy In Baghdad Amid Gaza War
Salvoes of rockets were launched Friday at the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the mission said, the latest in a flurry of such attacks amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“A multi-rocket attack was launched at US and Coalition forces in the vicinity of Union III and the Baghdad embassy complex” without causing any reported casualties or damage, a US official said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The United States leads an international coalition battling jihadists in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, and its forces have come under repeated attacks in recent weeks.
The attacks come against the backdrop of the more than two-month war between US ally Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, the US embassy said “two salvoes of rockets” were fired at the mission compound at around 4.15am (0115 GMT).
“Indications are the attacks were initiated by Iran-aligned militias,” said a US spokesperson.
“We again call on the government of Iraq… to do all in its power to protect diplomatic and coalition partner personnel and facilities.
“We reiterate that we reserve the right to self-defence and to protect our personnel anywhere in the world,” the spokesperson added.
Since mid-October, there have been dozens of rocket or drone strikes by pro-Iran groups against US or coalition forces in Iraq as well as in Syria.
But Friday’s rocket attack was the first against the US embassy in Baghdad since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, raising regional tensions and fears of a wider conflict.
An Iraqi security official said “Three Katyusha rockets targeting the American embassy fell close to the Green Zone,” near the river Tigris. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
There are roughly 2,500 US troops in Iraq and about 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.
– Around 80 attacks –
After the end of a seven-day pause in the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas last week, pro-Iran groups resumed their attacks against US and coalition forces, justifying their actions by pointing to American support for Israel.
In Iraq, most were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi coalition of former paramilitaries who are now integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces.
US forces have struck Iran-linked targets in both Iraq and Syria in response.
On Sunday a US military official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed a “self-defence strike” was carried out in northern Iraq against a drone launch site “in the vicinity of Kirkuk” against “an imminent threat”.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq later announced the death of “five martyrs”.
That strike came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said during a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Baghdad rejected “any attack on Iraqi territory”, according to a statement from Sudani’s office.
Sudani also said the Iraqi government was committed “to ensuring the safety of the international coalition advisers present in Iraq”.
On Wednesday, a US military official said a drone had targeted Western troops at the Ain al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, but there were no casualties or damage.
In total, Washington has counted at least 78 attacks since October 17 against its forces in Iraq and Syria, 10 days after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
The Israel-Hamas war began with the Palestinian militant group’s unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, which killed around 1,200 people and saw about 240 people captured as hostages, according to Israeli officials.
In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a large-scale military offensive that has killed 17,177 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas government.
The attacks against US personnel included rocket fire and drone strikes, and have left at least 60 US personnel wounded, the Pentagon says.
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