Hundreds of people were killed in an Israeli strike at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, reports said.

The number of people killed has reached 500, following the alleged air strike on the Al Ahli Arab hospital, according to the Gaza Health Ministry spokesman, the BBC reported.

It quoted an Israeli Army spokesperson saying the cause of the incident is not known and the army is looking into the details.

The hospital is funded by the Anglican Church, and Richard Sewell, Dean of St George's College – one of the church's top figures in Jerusalem – said that it took "a direct hit from an Israeli missile", the BBC said.

Gaza Hospital attack
500 killed in Gaza Hospital attackIANS

Sewell, in a post on X, said early reports suggest hundreds of women and children have been killed, and calls the act the "deliberate killing of vulnerable civilians".

"The bombs must stop now. There can be no possible justification for this."

British-Palestinian surgeon Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah, who was working there when the strike occurred, told the BBC that parts of the hospital were on fire.

"I don't know whether that is the emergency department. But it's certainly the operating suite, part of the roof has fallen. There is glass everywhere," he said, adding that there were lots of people taking refuge at the hospital.

The BBC also quoted an unnamed doctor at the hospital that there was total devastation at the scene of the attack - where some 4,000 displaced persons were seeking refuge.

He added that 80 per cent of the hospital was out of service, and that hundreds of people were killed or injured in the blast.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared three days of mourning following the air strike on Gaza's Al Ahli hospital, Palestinian state media reported.

He has also reportedly cancelled his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Jordan on Wednesday.

Protests have broken out in Ramallah in the West Bank.

World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he "strongly condemns" the attack on Al Ahli Arab Hospital, adding early reports indicate hundreds of deaths and injuries.

"We call for the immediate protection of civilians and health care, and for the evacuation orders to be reversed. #NotATarget," he posted on X.

Earlier, the UN said a school in central Gaza where 4,000 people are sheltering was also hit, killing at least six people

Meanwhile, the White House has said that the Israelis have "categorically denied" that they were behind the massive explosion at a hospital in Gaza that killed hundred of people.

Speaking to reporters on board the Air Force One while en route to Tel Aviv, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday said that President Joe Biden, who was outraged and saddened over the horrific loss of life in Tuesday's blast, has "directed the national security team to gather as much information and context as possible so that we can learn more about how this happened".

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was sheltering thousands of displaced people when it was bombed on Tuesday, adding that many victims were still under the rubble.

While the Hamas claimed that over 500 people were killed in the blast, the Ministry said that 200 to 300 lives were lost as a result.

Asked if the US was giving Israel the "benefit of the doubt," Kirby said: "I think we certainly recognise that they (Israel) feel very strongly that this (hospital blast) was not caused by them."

Regarding the cancellation of Biden's trip to Amman, Kirby said it was a "mutual decision" between Jordanian and US officials.

Biden was set to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and others in Jordan, but Abbas canceled his meeting with Biden earlier Tuesday.


"The decision not to go to Amman was made in a mutual way when the President spoke to the king earlier this afternoon," Kirby said, referring to Biden's call with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"They both agreed that now was not the time to try to throw this meeting on, particularly with President Abbas, making it very clear – understandably so – that he wanted to return home for three days of mourning."

Asked why the President did not delay his visit until after the three-day mourning period, Kirby said there was still a "pretty robust agenda" for Biden on the ground in Israel.

"He wants to have these discussions directly with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and the War Cabinet."

"He's looking forward to having an opportunity to thank the first responders, he obviously feels it's important, as is his normal desire, to talk to family members who are suffering and anxious and worried and grieving.

"Even though the Amman portion isn't going to happen — again for perfectly understandable reasons — that doesn't negate the reason for going," he added.

Shortly after his arrival in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Biden will have a "small restricted bilateral meeting" with Netanyahu, following which the President will meet the Israeli War Cabinet, Kirby announced.

Biden will also meet Israeli first responders and families "of those who have lost loved ones in Israel and some who still don't know the fate of their loved ones", he added. Later in the day, Biden will speak with his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog.

(With inputs from IANS)