GAZA CITY: Hamas on Saturday denounced as “barbaric” overnight strikes it said damaged a Gaza children’s hospital, while Israel’s army claimed it was responding to rocket fire from the enclave.
Gaza’s ruling Hamas group said in a statement a “barbaric” Israeli strike had damaged a children’s hospital and a centre for people with special needs.
Medical sources in Gaza said the strikes “lightly wounded” two civilians, including a child.
The Israeli army, however, insisted on Saturday afternoon that it did not hit the hospital.
“Secondary explosions, which were identified from the strike on the Hamas rocket manufacturing site, are suspected of causing the damage to the nearby located hospital,” an army statement said.
Hamas “deliberately places military targets at the heart of densely populated areas”, while the Israeli army “takes all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians and civilian buildings”, the statement added.
Sirens had sounded on Friday night in the southern port city of Ashkelon and the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, according to an earlier army statement.
“Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory,” the statement said, adding that they were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defence System.
There were no reports of damage as a result of the interceptions.
Israeli emergency medical services said several people were treated for shock.
Islamist group Hamas seized control of Gaza from rival Palestinian movement Fatah in 2007 in a near civil war.
Since then, Hamas has fought three devastating wars with Israel in the territory, where about two million Palestinians live. Israel has since maintained a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip.