Israel-Hamas War: U.N.’s Top Court Hears Genocide Case Against Israel

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‘Nowhere Is Safe in Gaza’: South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide

South Africa began laying out its case that Israel is acting with “genocidal intent” in Gaza to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“Israel has a genocidal intent against the Palestinians in Gaza. That is evident from the way in which Israel’s military attack is being conducted. The mass displacement of the population of Gaza headed into areas where they continue to be killed.” “The level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza.” “I think we have seen today one of the biggest shows of hypocrisy in history when South Africa became the legal arm of a terror organization, Hamas.” “Bring them home. Bring them home.” “Free Palestine, free, free Palestine.”

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South Africa began laying out its case that Israel is acting with “genocidal intent” in Gaza to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.CreditCredit…Remko De Waal/EPA, via Shutterstock

South Africa on Thursday made its case that Israel is acting with “genocidal intent” in Gaza, citing as evidence the words of Israeli officials including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said Israel would impose a complete siege on the territory because it was fighting “human animals.”

On the first day of a two-day hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, South African representatives said the statements of Israeli officials like Mr. Gallant communicated the intent to commit genocide. Israel categorically denies the genocide accusation and will present its defense on Friday.

To constitute genocide, there must be a proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, according to the U.N. genocide convention, to which Israel is a signatory. Intent is often the most difficult element to prove in such cases, however.

As the hearing concluded, South Africa, which brought the case against Israel, asked the court to issue an emergency provision calling on Israel to immediately suspend all military operations in Gaza, including rescinding evacuation orders and allowing people there to receive food, water, shelter and clothing.

Decisions by the court, the United Nations’ top judicial body, are binding, but there are few means of enforcement. A final ruling could take years to arrive.

The genocide accusation carries particular significance in Israel, which was founded in the wake of the near-wholesale destruction of European Jewry during World War II, and became a haven for Jews expelled from Arab lands. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Lior Haiat, called Thursday’s proceedings “one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history,” and repeated Israel’s argument that it is Hamas that should face charges of genocide.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also denounced the case. “Today, again, we saw an upside down world, in which the State of Israel is accused of genocide at a time when it is fighting genocide,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Haiat called Hamas “a racist and antisemitic terrorist organization that calls in its convention for the destruction of the state of Israel and the murder of Jews.” And he said the genocide case brought by South Africa — whose post-apartheid government has long supported the Palestinian cause — overlooked the atrocities committed by Hamas in its Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in southern Israel.

South Africa “completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped and abducted Israeli citizens, simply because they were Israelis, in an attempt to carry out genocide,” he said.

The hearings at the court are the first time that Israel has chosen to defend itself in person in such a setting, attesting to the gravity of the indictment and the high stakes for the country’s international reputation and standing.

Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks killed about 1,200 people and led to about 240 being taken hostage, according to Israeli officials. Israel has responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion that have killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children, according to health officials in Gaza, whose count does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Most of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents have been displaced since the fighting began, increasing the danger of disease and hunger, according to international organizations.

South Africa’s justice minister, Ronald Lamola, condemned the atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 but said the scale of Israel’s military response in Gaza was not justified. He told the court that the Israeli offensive had created conditions for Gazans that were designed “to bring about their physical destruction.”

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, another South African attorney making arguments in the case, said the statements of Israeli officials like Mr. Gallant — who said after the Hamas attack that Israel would let “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” into Gaza — were tantamount to a directive to physically destroy Gazans and “communicated state policy.”

“This admits of no ambiguity,” Mr. Ngcukaitobi said. “It means to create conditions of death of the Palestinian people in Gaza, to die a slow death due to starvation and dehydration or to die quickly because of a bomb attack or sniper, but to die nevertheless.”

Israeli leaders have said that South Africa’s allegations pervert the meaning of genocide and the purpose of the 1948 genocide convention. They point to millions of messages, sent by various means, telling Gaza’s civilians to evacuate to safer areas ahead of bombings, and say they are constantly working to increase the amount of aid entering Gaza.

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Mourning relatives killed in bombardment in Rafah on Wednesday.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The case that South Africa has brought at the International Court of Justice at The Hague accuses Israel of actions in Gaza that are “genocidal in character.” More than 23,000 people have died, according to the Gazan health ministry, since Israel launched airstrikes and a ground invasion in response to Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Oct. 7, which Israel says killed about 1,200 people.

Israel’s military insists that it is prosecuting the war against Hamas in Gaza in line with international law. The death toll in Gaza, Israeli officials say, is attributable in part to the use by Hamas of residential areas and civilian structures, including schools and hospitals, to launch attacks, store weapons and hide fighters.

To hear the Gaza case, the international court’s regular 15-judge panel has been expanded to 17, with one additional judge appointed by each side. To fill those seats, Israel named Aharon Barak, a former president of its Supreme Court who fled Nazi-occupied Lithuania as a boy, and South Africa named Dikgang Moseneke, a former deputy chief justice of its Constitutional Court.

Israel’s legal team at The Hague is led by Malcolm Shaw, a British expert chosen for his experience in litigation at the World Court. The South African team is led by John Dugard, a highly regarded scholar of international law and a former United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a statement on Thursday, Hamas welcomed South Africa’s decision to bring the case and said it looked forward to “a decision that does justice to victims” and calls on Israel to “stop the aggression.”

The United States, Israel’s most important ally, has denounced South Africa’s petition. John F. Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, described it as “meritless, counterproductive, completely without any basis in fact whatsoever.”

The court’s decisions are typically binding, though it has few means of enforcing them. In 2004, the court issued a nonbinding opinion that Israel’s construction of its security barrier inside the territory of the occupied West Bank was illegal and that it should be dismantled. Twenty years later, the system of walls and fences is still standing.

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Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine Protesters Demonstrate at The Hague

Protesters for Israel and Palestine demonstrated outside the genocide hearing at the International Court of Justice.

“Netanyahu, you will see, Palestine will be free.” “Occupation no more.” “I’m here today in support for Palestine. There is a genocide happening, and that the U.N. should act accordingly and the world should act accordingly.” “Bring them home, bring them home. Bring them home, bring them home.” “Today there are absurd accusations against Israel that it’s committing genocide while Hamas is committing crimes against humanity, every day that my brother and the rest of the hostages are there.”

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Protesters for Israel and Palestine demonstrated outside the genocide hearing at the International Court of Justice.CreditCredit…Robin Utrecht/EPA, via Shutterstock

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Protestors waving Israeli flags outside the court.Credit…Patrick Post/Associated Press

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators near the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on Thursday.Credit…Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

Rival demonstrators took their messages to the frigid streets outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Thursday, some speaking out on behalf of Israel and others backing the Palestinian cause.

The rallies, which took place as the highest court of the United Nations held hearings in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide, echoed demonstrations across the world since Israel launched its assault against Hamas in Gaza. Though large protests have formed supporting both sides of the conflict, pro-Palestinian supporters have tended to draw bigger crowds in Europe, among other regions.

On Thursday, the protesters assembled at different locations in the court’s vicinity over several hours, making it difficult to estimate the crowd’s overall size. It appeared that a few thousand people turned out to support the Palestinians, a slightly larger number than those backing Israel.

“Cease-fire Now and “Free Palestine,” some demonstrators chanted, waving Palestinian flags.

Leila Aridi, 20, said she had traveled from Prague to participate in the protest and argued that even if the court does not find Israel guilty of genocide, it should at least punish it for war crimes. “Genocide is going on in Gaza and in Palestine,” she said.

Ms. Aridi was one of several protesters who said they were there for the sake of humanity, rather than out of specific sympathy for people of Gaza.

The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas led an attack on Israel in which, the Israeli authorities say, around 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.

Health officials in Gaza say that Israel has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians since its assault began. The United Nations says that tens of thousands have been wounded and the vast majority of the territory’s population forced from their homes.

Israeli officials, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said repeatedly that the military has tried to mitigate harm to civilians. They argue that Hamas is ultimately to blame for people being killed, injured or displaced because it hides its forces among the civilian population.

At one demonstration near The Hague, people waved Israeli flags and carried pictures of the hostages who remained in captivity in Gaza.

“I am here to support Israel,” said Judith de Jonge 58, who is from The Hague. “They are not doing a genocide. They are not against all the Arabs. They are against Hamas.”

She said that she mourned for innocent victims on both sides, but that Israel needed to defend itself.

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Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, left, met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in Cairo on Thursday.Credit…Pool photo by Evelyn Hockstein

Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, met on Thursday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in Cairo to discuss the dire situation of Palestinian civilians in the Israel-Hamas war and what will happen in Gaza when the conflict ends.

Mr. Blinken also planned to speak with Mr. el-Sisi about how to prevent the intensifying conflict in the region from escalating further, U.S. officials said. Militias supported by Iran have been attacking American and Israeli forces, and the most urgent challenge to the United States is posed by the Houthis of Yemen.

U.S. officials say the Houthis have been using drones, rockets and missiles provided by Iran to fire at commercial ships and U.S. warships in the Red Sea, prompting Mr. Blinken to declare on Wednesday that there would be “consequences.”

Mr. Blinken met Mr. el-Sisi at the presidential palace after landing in a U.S. military C-17 plane from Tel Aviv.

Mr. el-Sisi has insisted since the start of the war that Israel not permanently displace Palestinians. On Wednesday, he traveled to Aqaba, Jordan, to take part in a summit on the war called by King Abdullah II. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank, also attended the summit, just hours after meeting with Mr. Blinken in Ramallah.

The Arab leaders issued a statement that rejected “any attempts to reoccupy parts of Gaza” by Israel, and they stressed that displaced Palestinians must be able to return home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel tried last October to get Mr. Blinken to ask Mr. el-Sisi to take Palestinian refugees, since Egypt shares a border with Gaza. Since then, the Israeli military has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the Gazan health ministry. And it has destroyed many of the buildings in the tiny coastal strip and issued evacuation orders, forcing most of the two million people there to seek temporary shelter within Gaza.

Some Israeli officials have suggested that Palestinians should not be allowed to live near Gaza’s border with Israel, in order to create a security buffer zone that could help prevent another attack like the one on Oct. 7, when Israeli authorities say Hamas killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel.

Last week, two far-right cabinet officials proposed a mass resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza. All neighboring countries have refused to allow Israel to push refugees into their territories.

After a full day of meetings with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken said at a news conference that he had insisted to Mr. Netanyahu that Palestinian civilians be allowed to return home as soon as conditions allowed. And he said it was U.S. policy to ensure that Palestinians are not resettled outside Gaza.

He told reporters that Mr. Netanyahu had reassured him it was not the Israeli government’s policy to move Palestinians out.

Edward Wong Reporting from Cairo

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An Israeli protester in Tel Aviv, calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza, on Tuesday.Credit…Oded Balilty/Associated Press

Qatar is engaged in high-level discussions with Hamas to deliver vital prescription medicines to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip at the same time it is making progress with Israel about allowing more medicine into the enclave for Gazan civilians, officials said.

More than 120 hostages have now been held in Gaza for nearly 100 days and many suffer from health conditions that require regular medical care, including cancer and diabetes. Their families have grown increasingly concerned as the war enters its fourth month and as hostages released in late November share harrowing accounts of their captivity.

Family members of the hostages raised the need for medicines during a meeting in Doha with the prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Adbdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, according to Daniel Lifshitz, the grandson of one of the hostages.

An official familiar with the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to their sensitivity, confirmed the meeting. He said that negotiators were discussing the types of medications needed, how much was needed and how to deliver them. Discussions were underway with international organizations that could help deliver them, he added.

Qatar has become a key mediator between Hamas and Israel — who aren’t speaking directly — in negotiations over the hostages. The talks on medical aid are separate from wider negotiations on another hostage release, which have not yielded an agreement.

A senior Israeli official, who was not authorized to talk to the news media and spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that talks on medicines for the hostages and for Gazan civilians had made progress. Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official, said in a text message that the group was actively discussing efforts related to delivering medications “with great positivity.”

The official briefed on the talks said Israel was showing willingness to allow the delivery of medications to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Only 15 hospitals in Gaza remain at least partially functional amid Israeli military attacks on the enclave, according to the United Nations, and shortages of medical supplies are severe.

Israel has been permitting trucks carrying medicine to enter Gaza, but United Nations officials say that those supplies have failed to meet the needs of the residents.

Waleed Abu Hatab, the director of maternal medicine at the Nasser Medical Center in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis, said he was dealing with steep shortages of milk formula, anesthetics and vaccines, making it difficult to provide adequate care to newborns.

“If this situation continues, I’m worried many won’t survive,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re dealing with an impossible situation.”

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Red Cross has not been able to visit the hostages. The organization has said it did not know where the hostages were being held and could not visit them without assurance of safe passage from both Hamas and the Israeli military because of active fighting.

“In a humanitarian initiative, I.C.R.C. teams have been urging the parties and those who have influence to get medicines delivered to the hostages,” said Jason Straziuso, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. “The most critical step is that the medicines get into the hands of those who need it. We won’t be satisfied until they do.”

Israelis advocating for the hostages’ return said they would be enormously relieved if Hamas permitted the delivery of medicines. “All of the hostages’ lives are at risk, especially those who need medical treatment,” said Dr. Hagai Levine, the chairman of the medical team with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, an Israeli group. “It’s my wish that they will finally get the treatment that they deserve.”

Mr. Lifshitz, the grandson of Oded Lifshitz, an 83-year-old Israeli journalist and peace activist who is being held in Gaza, said he was at the recent talks in Qatar where families brought up the issues. He said he has been overcome with worry about his grandfather’s health situation since he was taken hostage.

“The fact that so many hostages have been denied the medications they need is a death sentence,” he said. “They should have received what they needed on the first day.”

Adam Rasgon reporting from Jerusalem

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Palestinians rallied around a statue of Nelson Mandela in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday.Credit…Marco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As South Africa began laying out its case at the International Court of Justice on Thursday accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, Palestinians across the West Bank welcomed the move, which many saw as an extension of South Africa’s longstanding support for their struggle. But some in Gaza doubted that the proceedings would bring an end to their suffering.

Hundreds of Palestinians on Thursday gathered to mark the occasion in some Israeli-occupied West Bank cities, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency. Some held signs that read “Thank you, South Africa.”

In Ramallah, the authority’s administrative capital, dozens gathered at Mandela Square on Wednesday night. Footage posted by Palestinian news media showed crowds singing the South African national anthem while waving Palestinian and South African flags in front of a 20-foot statue of Nelson Mandela — a gift from Johannesburg and a symbol of the solidarity of the South African people with the Palestinian cause.

“It’s very powerful that it’s coming from South Africans against the state of Israel, from a country that previously had an apartheid regime against a country that is currently practicing apartheid,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer who was once a legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Palestinians have long believed what some international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have said in recent years:that Israel is perpetrating a form of apartheid, the racist legal system that prevailed in South Africa until the early 1990s, an assessment that the Israeli government has condemned as a baseless attack.

Ms. Buttu said that she wished the case had come earlier “only because it could have prevented Israel’s killing of so many more people.” But she added that “it’s not at all coming too late, because it’s clear to me that Israel intends to continue this for as long as they possibly can.”

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign affairs ministry thanked South Africa in a statement on Thursday and called the proceedings “a historic event in the process of the joint Palestinian and South African struggle in the face of injustice and genocide.”

Nour Odeh, a Palestinian political analyst and former spokesperson for the authority, said that listening to the hearing on Thursday “moved me to tears repeatedly,” adding in a post on X that she was “forever grateful” to South Africa for “standing up for our humanity.”

But in Gaza, where Israeli bombardment has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, according to Gazan health officials, and displaced 1.9 million others, according to the United Nations, some fear that the proceedings will do little to stem the mounting death toll and dire humanitarian crisis.

“I hope that this case will bring this war to an end,” said Alaa Essam, a 36-year-old from central Gaza. “But I am afraid Israel won’t listen.”

Abdul Qader Al-Atrash, a 32-year-old resident of Gaza, said that while most people in the strip were aware of the proceedings, many were not following the case with much hope that it could improve things for them. “It’s all nonsense — it’s been over 90 days and we’re just hearing words,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday.

“Nothing will change,” Mr. Al-Atrash said. “The only thing on our minds right now is how will we get water for our family, where will we charge our phones, and if we will have anything to eat tomorrow.”

Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar, Abu Bakr Bashir and Anushka Patil from London and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad from Haifa, Israel.

Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem

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Colleagues of the Palestinian journalist Mohammed Abu Hatab attended his funeral after he was killed in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, in November.Credit…Yousef Masoud for The New York Times

As part of the International Criminal Court’s investigation into allegations of crimes in the Gaza Strip, its chief prosecutor will review attacks that killed journalists in the Israel-Hamas war, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The court, which was formed by the Rome Statute two decades ago to investigate, prosecute and try people accused of war crimes, genocide and other atrocities, is more broadly looking into allegations of war crimes by Israel and by Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, journalists are protected as civilians. Israel is not a member nation of the court and does not recognize its jurisdiction, so the impact of the I.C.C.’s investigation is unclear.

“The Prosecutor has previously underlined his concern about the increasing number of attacks on journalists globally and emphasized that such attacks may constitute Rome Statute crimes,” said the statement from the office of the prosecutor, Karim Khan.

The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has filed two complaints with the court over the past 10 weeks, calling on the court to investigate and prosecute cases of journalists who were killed in the war.

In the group’s first complaint, filed last October, it said that eight Palestinian journalists had been killed by attacks that had caused “disproportionate harm” to civilians. It also characterized the death of an Israeli journalist covering the attacks of Oct. 7 as the “willful killing of a person protected by the Geneva Conventions,” which would be a war crime.

In the group’s second complaint, filed late last month, it said that seven Palestinian reporters who were killed might have been targeted.

The Israeli military has insisted that it has been acting in accordance with international humanitarian law. The Israeli military has also said that it has never targeted journalists and that operating in war zones carries risks.

“Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population. And we are doing so in full compliance with international law,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday in a video posted on social media.

Speaking from Ramallah, the West Bank, at the beginning of December, Mr. Khan said that the court’s investigation was moving forward.

Since the start of the war, which began after Hamas invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel invaded Gaza in retaliation, 79 journalists and media workers have been killed, according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, another media watchdog group. Of those, 72 were Palestinian, according to the data.

Traci Carl contributed reporting.

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A mass public prayer calling for the hostages held in the Gaza Strip to be released in Jerusalem’s Old City.Credit…Leo Correa/Associated Press

Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip “will not be returned alive” unless Israeli forces leave, a Hamas spokesman said on Wednesday, highlighting the predicament facing the Israeli government: It has vowed to free the hostages, and to pursue the war and defeat Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under significant pressure to do whatever is required to get the remaining hostages who are still alive — more than 100 of them, the government says — home safely. Yet public opinion surveys show that most Israelis also support his stated aim of eliminating Hamas, which led the deadly Oct. 7 assault on Israel, as a military force.

“We affirm that the enemy prisoners will not be returned alive to their families,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman, said at a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, unless Israel meets the conditions Hamas has set, “the first of which is a comprehensive cessation of the aggression against Gaza.”

Parsing the meaning of such statements is a challenge, in part because Hamas has not always followed through on previous threats. Shortly after its incursion into Israel, Hamas said it would kill its captives taken to Gaza unless Israel halted its retaliatory bombing campaign; it did not carry out that threat, though the bombing continued, and later set free more than 100 hostages, mostly in return for the release of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

It was also unclear whether Mr. Hamdan was saying the hostages, who have been in captivity more than three months, would be killed, or that they would be held indefinitely. It has kept some of its kidnap victims for years.

Mr. Hamdan rejected talk of a deal that would see Hamas leaders in Gaza going safely into exile, hostages being released and Israeli forces withdrawing from the territory. Israeli news media reported that something along those lines was being discussed by the governments of Qatar and Egypt.

“There is no initiative, as for the Qatari initiative, an Israeli withdrawal and the exit of Hamas leaders,” Mr. Hamdan said, calling it an Israeli attempt to mislead people.

He was equally dismissive of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who has been meeting with Middle East leaders to get behind a plan for governing and rebuilding Gaza after the war. That plan calls for the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited power in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to govern Gaza, as well — in effect ousting Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007.

“After Blinken’s statement that many countries in the region have shown a willingness to invest in the future of Gaza, we affirm that the Palestinian people are the only ones to decide their future without interference from anyone,” Mr. Hamdan said.

Hwaida Saad Reporting from Beirut, Lebanon

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Medics with the Palestine Red Crescent Society reacting after four of their colleagues were killed in an Israeli strike on their ambulance in Deir al Balah, central Gaza, on Wednesday.Credit…Mohammed Al-Masri/Reuters

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said a missile from an Israeli drone destroyed one of its ambulances in central Gaza on Wednesday, killing four crew members as well as the two patients it was transporting.

The ambulance was struck at 3:35 p.m. local time as it was approaching Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al Balah, the Red Crescent said.

“Our colleagues were intentionally targeted while inside an ambulance clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem,” the aid group said.

The Israeli military denied carrying out a strike in the area on Thursday and declined to answer further questions.

Another Israeli airstrike landed in the immediate vicinity of Al-Aqsa hospital earlier Wednesday, killing several people, Al Jazeera reported. The strikes deepened a crisis at what the United Nations has called the only functioning hospital left in central Gaza.

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Israeli airstrikes hit close to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Gaza on Wednesday, killing several people, Al Jazeera reported.CreditCredit…Yosef Basam al-Saifi, via Storyful

The Red Crescent said the crew members killed on Wednesday were Yusuf Abu Ma’mar, the driver of the ambulance; Fadi Al-Maani, a medic; Islam Abu Riyala, an emergency medical worker; and Fuad Abu Khamash, a volunteer photographer. The two wounded people they were transporting also died, the aid group said.

Footage captured by a Palestinian photojournalist, Motaz Azaiza, showed the harrowing aftermath of the strike that hit the ambulance, as friends and colleagues of the victims howled in grief. Tattered remnants of the Red Crescent emblems that the ambulance crew had been wearing were placed on top of their mangled remains.

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Wounded Palestinians being evacuated after a strike next to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital on Wednesday.Credit…Adel Hana/Associated Press

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A Palestinian man receiving treatment at a hospital in Deir al Balah after a strike near the city’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.Credit…Mohammed Al-Masri/Reuters

The ambulance crew had responded to a call to help two people who had gunshot wounds, said Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent. The crew had treated their injuries and were moving to transfer them to the hospital. The ambulance had just turned off a main thoroughfare, Salah al-Din Street, and onto a back road toward the hospital when it was hit, she said.

Ms. Farsakh said the slain photographer, Mr. Abu Khamash, had volunteered to document the aid group’s efforts to provide medical care to Gazans under Israeli bombardment.

Ms. Farsakh said Mr. Abu Khamash was the first person she tried to contact on Wednesday when she learned that one of the group’s ambulances had been hit, hoping that he could help verify the news.

“Then I figured out that he is among the ones that were killed,” she said. “I just — it’s heartbreaking.”

The U.N. human rights office on Wednesday said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” that the Israeli military had “placed civilian lives at serious risk” by striking targets in Deir al Balah, after advising thousands of displaced Gazans to relocate to the area for their safety.

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