An Israeli airstrike on Sunday caused “significant damage” to a pediatric hospital in Gaza City, wounding an unknown number of people and killing at least eight, authorities in the enclave said.
The fatalities from the attack on the al-Rantisi hospital, which houses the territory’s only pediatric cancer ward on its third floor, were reported by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, according to Reuters. Israel’s military said it was looking into the report.
The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, which founded the hospital in 2019, said the bombing had caused “significant damage” to the building. In a Monday statement on X, the organization said that it was unable to confirm the exact number of injuries and fatalities, but was working to gather more information.
The fund reiterated its “urgent call” for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to allow aid, including fuel desperately needed to keep hospitals running, to flow into the besieged enclave.
The hospital, located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, was also sheltering 1,000 refugees. Administrators and staff have been bracing for the site to be impacted in recent weeks amid Israel’s relentless bombardment campaign. One of its volunteers, American pediatric oncologist Dr. Zeena Salman, told The Daily Beast late last month that the ward’s patients had been thrust into “an impossible situation” by the onslaught.
“There’s a number of patients who are not stable enough to transfer to another hospital,” Salman said, adding that, as of Oct. 24, there were at least 10 in-patient children being treated in the department. “And there may not be enough resources in the hospital.”
The health ministry has said that more than 10,000 people in Gaza, including 4,100 children, have been killed by Israeli airstrikes within the month since Hamas’ attacks over the border. On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Gaza was rapidly becoming “a graveyard for children.”
“The numbers are obviously catastrophic,” UNICEF spokesperson Toby Fricker told The Guardian over the weekend. “Verification doesn’t occur in real time, which is why we say ‘reportedly killed’, but, generally speaking, in all conflicts we substantiate initial estimates and in Gaza they have tended to be pretty consistent.”
Since Oct. 7, Israel has repeatedly insisted that some of Hamas’ members have gone into hiding in hospitals, a claim that has been rebuffed by the militant group. Guterres acknowledged on Monday that Hamas was using “civilians as human shields,” but condemned the fact that Israel’s bombs were hitting “hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches, and U.N. facilities, including shelters.”
“Nowhere is safe,” he added.