The United Nations Secretary General and aid agencies working in Gaza have condemned Israel’s air strike on an ambulance on Friday. The Israeli military claimed, without evidence, that the ambulance was carrying Hamas militants. The strike targeted a convoy of ambulances evacuating wounded people from the besieged northern Gaza area. Fifteen people were killed and 60 injured in the strike, according to Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, the director of al-Shifa Hospital.
Israel’s military stated that it would provide more evidence that the struck ambulance was being used by Hamas to transport fighters. They also claimed that Hamas uses ambulances to move militants and weapons. However, Hamas has denied both accusations.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his horror over the reported attack and condemned the strike on social media. The World Health Organisation and the medical charity, Medicins Sans Frontieres, denounced the attack as “horrendous” and “a new low in an endless stream of unconscionable violence”.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) stated that a group of five ambulances was attempting to transport people wounded by Israeli bombardment from al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. However, the journey was disrupted due to the blocking of the road with rubble from shelling.
As the convoy returned through Gaza City, the lead ambulance was targeted by a missile, causing damage and injuring the crew and the injured patient inside. Videos verified by Reuters showed numerous people lying prone in pools of blood near ambulances. The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed its distress at seeing medical services in Gaza put at risk.
Israel’s military assault on Gaza is a response to Hamas’ attack on Israeli towns, which Israel claims killed 1,400 people. Health authorities in Gaza report that Israeli bombardment has killed 9,488 people.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has a track record of providing life-saving services and is bound by principles of neutrality and impartiality, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.