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‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab Hospital

Attack happened as hospital was overwhelmed with thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter from Israeli attacks.

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalIbtihal al-Ra'i escaped the Israeli attack on October 17 at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City with her children and said she had to step over mutilated and burned body parts [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera] Published On 18 Oct 2023

Gaza City – Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is a gruesome sight the morning after a massacre on its grounds – bloodstains on cement, grass, and tattered bedding, shards of glass glitter next to shattered paving blocks and the twisted, burned-out remains of cars.

Three thousand people who survived missile attacks in other parts of Gaza had come to take refuge at al-Ahli, where they slept in the garden courtyard and on the upper floors of the hospital building.

Those who were not among the at least 500 people who were killed in Tuesday night’s attack walked around dazedly, collecting what belongings were still usable or helping retrieve dead bodies and body parts.

“What happened is a crime against humanity,” Mohammed al-Nageh, the hospital’s director of programmes and coordination told Al Jazeera.

“This hospital, which has functioned and delivered health services for more than 140 years, was attacked in the most brutal manner, massacring more than 500 souls.”

Ambulances and private cars rushed hundreds of casualties to al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in Gaza City which was already overwhelmed with wounded from other attacks amid Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, inside Israel on October 7.


Victims arrived with gruesome injuries, Gaza’s health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. Some were decapitated, disembowelled or missing limbs.

Health officials said most of the victims of the attack were women and children and warned the death toll was expected to rise.

Ibtihal al-Raii was sitting on the hospital’s second floor with other families and children.

“We saw the light of the missile,” she said. “The next second, we were in hell. The broken glass rained down on us, and I threw myself over the children. We ran outside and saw mutilated bodies, burned bodies, body parts everywhere, underneath our feet. Where is the Arab world?” She cried.

Officials in Gaza said the blast at the hospital was caused by an Israeli air raid.

The health ministry said at least 3,300 people have been killed in Gaza and 11,000 wounded in Israeli air raids.

Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead, according to health authorities.

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalAbout 3,000 people had taken refuge at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, escaping the intense Israeli aerial bombardment that began on October 7. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab Hospital
The attack targeted the hospital grounds, where many civilians were taking shelter. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalIsrael's intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip has not stopped after the deadly hospital attack, as Palestinians face a deepening humanitarian crisis with aid still not allowed into the besieged enclave. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalHealth officials said most of the victims of the attack were women and children and warned the death toll is expected to rise. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalIsrael has attributed the explosion to a misfired rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed group - the group categorically denied this. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab Hospital
Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City has been helping people for more than 140 years. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab Hospital
The hospital was one of 20 in the north of the Gaza Strip under Israeli military evacuation orders, which doctors and health officials pointed out is impossible to do given the dire situation. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab HospitalHundreds of the injured and dead were transferred to Gaza City's main al-Shifa Hospital, which is already overwhelmed with wounded from other Israeli attacks. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Health officials said some of the victims were decapitated, disemboweled or were missing limbs. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘We were in hell’: Day after deadly attack on Gaza’s al-Ahli Arab Hospital
The 12-day war on the blockaded Gaza Strip has internally displaced an estimated one million Palestinians, who say there is no safe place to go. [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

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