At least 500 people were killed in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike hit a hospital.

An Israeli airstrike on Al-Ahly hospital in the Gaza Strip killed at least 500 people. reported Al Jazeera TV channel with reference to the local Ministry of Health.

“There were hundreds of sick and wounded people in the hospital, as well as people forcibly displaced from their homes,” the statement said.

A Hamas spokesman allegedly called the incident a war crime. The Palestinian side also called the incident the deadliest Israeli airstrike since 2008. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in turn, declared three days of mourning for the victims of the strike.

“Many people ask why this number (of deaths) is so high. Because <...> these are Palestinians who took refuge in front of the hospital. They thought they would be in a safer place in front of the hospital. But this is not so in Gaza, this is not so in Palestine,” Nebal Farsakh, a representative of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, commented on the incident to the TV channel.

Israeli Army (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters that this information was being verified. “There are a lot of airstrikes, a lot of failed rockets and a lot of fake Hamas reports,” he said (quote according to Times of Israel).

The situation in the Middle East escalated in early October when the Palestinian group Hamas attacked Israel. In response, the IDF launched Operation Iron Swords, which regularly attacks hundreds of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government announced that the country had entered a state of war. According to the latest data, the death toll during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has exceeded 4,000 people, more than half of them are Palestinians.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the situation in the region on October 17, accused the UN Security Council of inaction. The Foreign Ministry also accused the UN Security Council of not organizing an open meeting on the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone and consultations of delegations with interested countries for further steps.

Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said earlier that hostilities in the Middle East will end as soon as Hamas militants lay down their arms and release the hostages. Erdan called on the Security Council to declare the group a terrorist organization and support Israel’s right to self-defense.

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