Blood splattered along the side of a car following an Israeli air strike close to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, 03 November 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/MOHAMMED SABER

Israeli strike on Gaza ambulance should be probed as ‘possible war crime’: HRW

Jerusalem, Nov 8 (EFE).- An Israeli strike on an ambulance in Gaza should be probed as a possible war crime, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.

Al-Shifa hospital is lit up in Gaza City 24 October 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/MOHAMMED SABER

Al-Shifa hospital is lit up in Gaza City 24 October 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/MOHAMMED SABER

The Israeli military’s Nov. 3 attack on the marked ambulance just outside of Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital “was apparently unlawful and should be investigated as a possible war crime,” it said in a statement.

“Video footage and photographs taken shortly after the strike and verified by Human Rights Watch show a woman on a stretcher in the ambulance and at least 21 dead or injured people in the area surrounding the ambulance, including 5 children,” said the NGO.

The strike was condemned at the time by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which said it had been transporting a 35-year-old woman with shrapnel to the chest and leg and part of a convoy of five ambulances.

According to the health organization, the convoy was trying to evacuate wounded from the hospital to the southern Rafah crossing to receive treatment in Egypt, but due to bombing rubble on the road, the convoy could not continue its journey and was forced to return to the hospital.

The PRCS said the lead ambulance belonging to the Ministry of Health was attacked first as the convoy was about 1 kilometer from al-Shifa, damaging the vehicle and injuring those inside, and the PRCS ambulance was struck upon arrival at the hospital gates, killing 15 and injuring at least 60 people.

HRW claims that the Israeli army spokesperson said in a televised interview that same day that the army saw terrorists using ambulances to travel around, perceived it as a threat and “struck that ambulance.”

“For the Israeli authorities to claim that their deadly November 3 attack on an ambulance in a crowded area was lawful, they need to do more than just insist that Palestinian fighters were using an ambulance as transport,” said Lama Fakih, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director.

Fakih insisted that “the need to safely transport wounded people to hospitals is critical in armed conflicts, so the laws of war provide special protections for ambulances used solely for this purpose.”

Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7 after an assault by the Islamist group that killed more than 1,400 and took more than 240 hostage, while the subsequent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has killed more than 10,300 people, injured almost 26,000 and left 2,450 missing. EFE