Pakistan late on Tuesday strongly condemned the Israeli airstrike on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, denouncing it as an inhumane and indefensible act.
The assault, which Israel has tried to deny any role in by blaming Hamas, has emerged as one of the deadliest incidents in Gaza since hostilities worsened earlier this month, killing at least 500 Palestinians and injuring hundreds more. A Hamas minister has accused Israel of committing the massacre in Gaza, with an Israeli military spokesperson claiming a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad military group was the reason. However, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad has denied the Israeli claims, maintaining Israel is attempting to cover up what a “horrific crime” against civilians.
A press conference by surviving doctors after the airstrike raised further questions about Israel’s denials, as they revealed that the Israeli military had threatened the hospital twice over the past few days.
“The indiscriminate targeting of civilian population and facilities is a grave violation of international law and constitutes war crimes,” read the statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office. “We call on the international community to take urgent measures to bring an immediate end to the Israeli bombardment and siege of Gaza and the impunity with which Israeli authorities have operated in the last few days,” it added.
In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar likewise condemned the Israeli attack and the “immense” civilian casualties. “Targeting a hospital, a sanctuary for those in need, is an indefensible act of inhumanity,” he said, noting international law ensures protection to hospitals and medical personnel.
“We demand an end to this indiscriminate targeting and urge the international community to act swiftly to stop the violence and hold those responsible accountable. In my interaction with U.N. Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] short while ago, I urged him that global community should ask Israel to stop killing innocent Palestinians,” he added.
Former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif described the incident as “horrific beyond words.” In a statement on X, he said he was “shell-shocked” by the incident, noting its victims were primarily sick children, women and the elderly. “The apartheid state of Israel is committing the worst kind of genocide of Palestinians without any regard for international law. Those emboldening it to commit war crimes are equally culpable in this massacre. History will never forget them,” he added.
Condemning the airstrike, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the “savage” attack by Israeli Occupation Forces was an “egregious violation” of international humanitarian and human rights law, specifically the Geneva Convention. “It’s a morally reprehensible crime which violates the principles of humanity and the laws of war by attacking unarmed civilians, sick and wounded including children needing care at a protected medical facility,” he said, adding this not only merited condemnation in the strongest terms but also accountability through international legal mechanisms for war crimes. “[The] U.N. and its member states must act towards immediate cessation of hostilities, operationalization of humanitarian corridor for safe passage of civilians and allowing humanitarian aid.”
The incident’s timing has raised eyebrows, coming ahead of a planned “solidarity” visit to Israel by U.S. President Joe Biden. Despite the ongoing bombardment and blockade of Gaza—which has since Oct. 7 claimed around 3,000 lives and injured around 12,500 others—the U.S. has maintained it “fully supports” the Israeli campaign in retaliation for a Hamas assault on southern Israeli communities that left over 1,400 dead and injured 3,400 others. However, public opinion is shifting in light of ongoing indiscriminate targeting of civilians and facilities, potentially violating international law and constituting war crimes.
“I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted,” said Biden in a statement. “Immediately upon hearing this news, I spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and have directed my national security team to continue gathering information about what exactly happened. The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy,” he added.
On Tuesday, the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said at least six people were killed by an Israeli airstrike that hit a school it ran in Gaza’s Al-Maghazi refugee camp. “This is outrageous and again it shows a flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians,” it said on X. “No place is safe in Gaza anymore, not even U.N. facilities.”
The U.N. secretary-general, in a statement on X, said: “I am horrified by the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in a strike on a hospital in Gaza today, which I strongly condemn. My heart is with the families of the victims. Hospitals and medical personnel are protected under international humanitarian law.”
Other global states and leaders, including Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. have also condemned the bombing and described it as unjustifiable. The brutal attack has seen protests erupt across Palestine and other parts of the Middle East. A large part of the blame is being laid on states “emboldening” Israel, i.e. the U.S., U.K., and the E.U.