Iran warned the scale of civilian suffering caused by Israel’s war on Hamas would inevitably lead to an expansion of the conflict, as officials in Gaza reported Israeli air strikes on or near several hospitals in the Palestinian enclave.
The comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian could ramp up concerns over whether Washington’s diplomatic efforts and deployment of U.S. naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean will be able to keep the conflict from further destabilising the Middle East.
“Due to the expansion of the intensity of the war against Gaza’s civilian residents, expansion of the scope of the war has become inevitable,” Amir-Abdollahian told his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Thursday night.
Iran’s state-run Press TV reported the comments, made during a telephone conversation, on Friday.
Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza over the past month has created a humanitarian catastrophe with thousands seeking medical treatment and shelter in the few hospitals still open, with those in the combat zone operating in grave danger.
“The Israeli occupation launched simultaneous strikes on a number of hospitals during the past hours,” Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra told Al Jazeera television.
Qidra said an Israeli strike hit a courtyard in the Al Shifa hospital, the biggest in Gaza City, causing casualties, but he did not provide details. Israel said Hamas has hidden command centres and tunnels beneath Al Shifa, and other hospitals such as the Indonesian Hospital, allegations Hamas denies.
Israel’s military did not directly comment on Qidra’s statement, which Reuters could not independently verify, but it has said it does not target civilians.
“While the world sees neighbourhoods with schools, hospitals, scout groups, children’s playgrounds and mosques, Hamas sees an opportunity to exploit,” Israel’s military said in a statement.