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Human rights groups have condemned an air strike on a hospital in the Gaza Strip, which has killed at least 500 civilians and injured scores more.

Both Hamas and the Israeli Defence Force blame the other for the deadly carnage.

Meanwhile, fears remain for hostages held in Gaza as the conflict escalates, with one of the terrorist group’s senior commanders confirmed to have been killed overnight.

US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, local time, to show solidarity with the country as it reels from Hamas’s surprise, sweeping terrorist attack.

Read on for the latest news from the conflict.

‘Lost for words’: Hundreds dead in hospital attack in Gaza

Up to 500 people are feared dead after an attack on a hospital in the Gaza Strip, which humanitarian groups have described as “the worst attack on a medical facility in the 21st Century”.

Both Hamas and Israel blame each other for the deadly carnage.

Scores of civilians had been seeking shelter and medical care at al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which was struck overnight in an air raid that witnesses claim was carried out by Israeli forces.

Hamas blamed Israel for the strike, calling it a “war crime”.

Israel claims an initial investigation shows the explosion was caused by a failed Hamas rocket launch.

Images are emerging of the horrifying scenes at the hospital, with hundreds of victims still trappead beneath rubble.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the “cold-blooded massacre”.

It will “forever remain a stain on the conscience of humanity that has been witnessing the horrors committed against the Palestinian people without taking action to stop it”, a statement read.

Zaher Sahloul from the US-based MedGlobal humanitarian organisation called it “the worst attack on a medical facility in the 21st Century”.

“Bombing hospitals is against international law. It is a war crime,” he said.

“It compounds trauma in the Gaza Strip, sending the message that nowhere is safe, not even inside a hospital.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) demanded the immediate protection of civilians and health care in the Gaza Strip. “

WHO strongly condemns the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X.

Tamara al-Rifai, from the UN Relief and Works Agency, claimed there was “direct Israeli fire” on the hospital.

“An attack on densely populated refugee camps where people are sheltering in UN schools and premises is something that is utterly shocking. It is a very sad violation of international humanitarian law. I am lost for words right now,” she told Al Jazeera.

Vision of the moment of impact

CCTV footage appears to show the moment a rocket launched from within the Gaza Strip fell short of its Israeli target and exploded in Palestine.

The vision appears to match footage taken by Al Jazeera, which also shows a rocket misfire land in Gaza.

Another clip shared online by Palestinian media outlets depicts the moment of the blast at the hospital.

‘Jihad’: Israel condemns claims it attacked hospital

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has slammed allegations it launched an air strike on a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds.

“An Islamic Jihad missile has killed many Palestinians at a Gazan hospital — a place where lives should be saved,” Mr Herzog said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Shame on the media who swallow the lies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad — broadcasting a 21st-Century blood libel around the globe. Shame on the vile terrorists in Gaza who wilfully spill the blood of the innocent.

“Never before has the choice been clearer. Israel is standing against an enemy made of pure evil. If you stand for humanity – for the value of all human life – you stand with Israel.”

Jordan Schachtel, an Israeli journalist for the outlet Dossier Today, took to X to share a screenshot of Telegram messages he claims indicate Hamas militants are to blame.

Israel insists it didn’t attack hospital

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it has vision it claims proves Hamas rockets were responsible for a hospital blast that has killed hundreds.

“From the analysis of the operational systems of the IDF, an enemy rocket barrage was carried out towards Israel, which passed through the vicinity of the hospital when it was hit,” a post from Israel’s official account on X, formerly Twitter, reads.

“According to intelligence information, from several sources we have, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation is responsible for the failed shooting that hit the hospital.”

It said that “the IDF did not conduct any operations in the area at the time of impact”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement shortly after the blast.

“So the whole world knows: The barbaric terrorists in Gaza are the ones who attacked the Gaza hospital, not the IDF,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“Those who cruelly murdered our children, murder their children as well.”

Hamas blames Israel and the US

The United States is responsible for the bloodshed at the bombed hospital because it has given Israel “cover for its aggression”, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has said in a televised address.

Speaking after the horrific attack, which has killed 500 people, Haniyeh called on Palestinians to “get out and confront the occupation and the settlers”.

“The hospital massacre confirms the enemy‘s brutality and the extent of his feeling of defeat,” he said.

He added that the attack will be “a new turning point”. Haniyeh called for Arabs and Muslims across the world to stage protests against Israel.

World reacts to hospital horror

Russia and the United Arab Emirates have demanded an urgent session of the United Natoins Security Council in response to the blast at a hospital in Gaza.

The request came shortly after Jordan’s King Abdullah described the situation as a “massacre” and blamed Israel for the attack.

King Abdullah called for Israel to immediately end its war against Hamas, which has caused the suffering of Palestinians that is a “shame on humanity”.

In the United Kingdom, Labour leader Keir Starmer said scenes at the hospital are “absolutely devastating and cannot be justified”.

Mr Starmer took to X, formerly Twitter, to say: “International law must be upheld.”

In Scotland, First Minister Humza Yousaf said the blast must be “unequivocally condemned in the strongest possible manner”.

Mr Yousaf, who has family in Gaza, added: “There can be no justification for this. None whatsoever.”

Saudia Arabia has also condemned the “heinous crime”.

Palestinian leader cancels meeting with Biden

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has pulled out of a planned meeting with Joe Biden following a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza.

The US President will visit Israel on Wednesday for high-level talks about the deadly conflict, then will travel on to Jordan.

Mr Biden and Mr Abbas were due to meet in Oman.

Aussies remain stuck in Gaza

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neill has confirmed there are 46 Australian citizens in Gaza.

“I can’t give you the demographic information of who it is, all I know is that there are 46 Aussies with Australian passports in their hands,” Ms O’Neill told Channel 7’s Sunrise.

The government has helped some 1500 people to flee the region, she added.

“We’ve got to now focus our attention on those 46 people, and we’re doing everything we can. We hope that we’ll be able to report back something positive.”

US to continue “steady flow of weapons”

The Pentagon will continue to provide a “steady flow of weapons” to Israel, which have so far occurred “near daily”.

Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh confirmed five C-17 aircraft missions have successfully carried out a range of security assistance missions since last Tuesday.

“You’re seeing near daily deliveries into Israel and I would expect that those are going to continue to flow,” Ms Singh said.

In addition to providing arsenal, the US is boosting its presence in the Middle East as both a sign of support and strength.

It’s hoped the arrival of warships and the prepared deployment of 2000 marines will deter the involvement of Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the conflict.

Last text from hostage revealed

The mother of French-Israeli woman Mia Shem, held hostage by Hamas militants in Gaza, has revealed a panicked text message the 21-year-old sent to a friend as militants attacked the festival she was attending.

“They’re shooting at us,” Mia wrote in the text. “Please, come save us!”

Her mother, Keren Schem, addressed a press conference in Israel on Tuesday, local time, a day after Hamas released footage of Mia in captivity – alive, but injured.

“I ask world leaders that my daughter be returned to us in the state that she is today, as well as the other hostages,” Ms Shem said at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

She was speaking a day after Hamas broadcast a video showing her daughter receiving treatment for a wounded arm.

“I beg the world to return my baby to me,” Ms Shem said, after French President Emmanuel Macron demanded her immediate and unconditional release.

Ms Shem said her daughter was at a rave party in the desert near the border when she was abducted to Gaza during the deadly attack Hamas militants launched on Israel on October 7.

“Now she is in Gaza. She is not the only one. There are many adults, children, babies and Holocaust survivors,” she said of other Israelis and foreigners held by militants.

“It is a crime against humanity. All together we need to stop this terror.”

Ms Shem said she had not known whether her daughter “was alive or dead” until Hamas released the video footage of her.

“There was a rumour saying that she was wounded in the shoulder or the leg. She was wounded in the hand. She was operated on,” Ms Shem said.

“She looks terrified. She says what they tell her to say. I’m really worried about her.”

Top Hamas commander killed

Ayman Nofal, a member of Hamas’s military council, has been killed in an Israeli air strike.

“Air Force fighter jets, under joint intelligence guidance with the Shin Bet, killed one of the senior members of the Hamas terrorist organisation, Ayman Nofal, who served as the commander of the Hamas central camps brigade in the Gaza Strip, and as the former head of Hamas’s military intelligence,” the Israeli military said on Tuesday, local time.

“By virtue of his duties, he directed many terrorist attacks against Israel and the security forces, and he directed the targets of Hamas’ rocket fire, specifically targeting areas populated by uninvolved civilians.

“In the past, he was involved in the production and development of weapons, promoted and was a partner in many terrorist attacks, and was even a partner in planning the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.”

Hamas has confirmed Nofal’s death, according to Reuters.

Militants attempt to ‘infiltrate’ Israel

Israeli troops killed four militants attempting to enter its territory from Lebanon on Tuesday, the army said, as tensions run high on the border between the two countries.

Israel has traded fire with Hezbollah and allied Palestinian militants in Lebanon on a near-daily basis since October 8, the day after Hezbollah’s Palestinian ally Hamas launched its surprise attack in Israeli territory.

The Israeli army said its forces opened fire on militants who had attempted to cross the northern border with Lebanon in the morning.

Later, antitank missiles targeted Israeli forces in two locations, with Israeli tanks and artillery retaliating against the “origins of the fire” and Hezbollah military posts, the army said.

Shots “fired from a light weapon” also targeted several Israeli military positions near Lebanon, it added.

Hezbollah said in a statement afterwards that its fighters had targeted “a Zionist tank in the Ramim barracks” at noon.

Two Israeli military reservists and a civilian were wounded in one of the attacks, the army said.

Over 50 killed in southern Gaza air strikes

Palestine’s interior ministry has confirmed 23 people have died in Israeli strikes in Khan Younis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. 28 more were killed in strikes in the Rafah area near the Egyptian border.

It came as the Israel Defence Force’s Chief-of-Staff Herzi Halevi said Israel were destined to defeat Hamas in a signed statement.

“The IDF will win thanks to sticking to the mission, fortitude, and courage,” he said.

“The IDF will win because our war is just. The IDF will win thanks to the resilience of the people from which it comes. It will win thanks to its abilities and because we trained for this task. We will win, and in all actions, we will act according to the spirit of the IDF and its values,” Halevi stated.

– with AFP

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