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October 24, 2023 2:56 PM IST

Italian Foreign Minister questions death toll in Gaza hospital strike

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Tuesday, October 24 said that an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City last week was not caused by a missile fired by Israel and also questioned the death toll reported by Palestinian officials.

Tajani was commenting on the October 17 explosion at Al Ahli hospital, among the most hotly disputed events of the Gaza war.

“We need to avoid the negative impact of propaganda. Because that missile, which was said to have caused 500 deaths – in reality it was around 50 people – and which inflamed Arab masses in big cities, was not however launched by Israel,” Tajani said.

Tajani said the missile had hit the hospital car park and did not say what evidence his comments were based on.

The Gaza health ministry has put the hospital death toll at 471.

An Israeli official said the toll appeared to be “several dozen”. Further, a U.S. intelligence report estimated the number of those killed to be “probably at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum”.

The governing Palestinian Islamist group Hamas accused Israel of carrying out an air strike on the hospital. Israel denied that, saying the blast was caused by a Palestinian rocket falling short after being launched at Israel.

The Israeli account has been supported by U.S., French and Canadian analyses.

(Input from Reuters)

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