Gazan rockets and not Israeli missiles on Monday afternoon hit a playground in a Gaza City refugee camp and a building inside the compound housing its largest hospital, the IDF said.
Palestinian sources reported several people killed in the late-afternoon strikes, many of them children.
The IDF said the blasts were caused by Islamic Jihad terrorists who had misfired large missiles.
“A short while ago, terrorists in Gaza fired rockets at Israel. One of them hit Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The other hit Al-Shati refugee camp,” read a tweet by the IDF Spokesperson.
AFP had initially reported that seven children were killed when an Israeli missile slammed into the playground, citing a Palestinian doctor at the city’s main hospital.
The missile was said to have struck a group of children running around at a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp.
A short while later, a missile struck a building inside the compound housing Gaza’s largest hospital on Monday, Hamas medics and an AFP correspondent said.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said a wall of a building inside the compound was damaged by a missile, which he said was fired by an Israeli drone.
However, the IDF denied that Israel was responsible for either attack, placing the blame on Gazan terrorists.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel was responsible and vowed revenge. “The massacre of the children in the Shati refugee camp is a war crime and a result of international silence. Our spirits will not break, and the occupation will pay the price,” he said, according to Israel Radio.
In a statement issued shortly before the strike, the World Health Organization said it was “appalled” by the number of strikes on healthcare facilities and personnel.
“The World Health Organization has been appalled by the continuing trend for healthcare facilities, staff and vehicles to come under direct fire in Gaza since the escalation of violence on 8 July 2014,” a statement from the Geneva-based body said.
“It is vital for health facilities and staff to be able to perform their life-saving work without fear of attack,” it said, recalling that all parties are obliged under international humanitarian law “to “protect medical services.”
Statistics published by OCHA, the UN humanitarian agency, show that some 22 hospitals, clinics and medical centers have been hit and damaged by Israeli shelling since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8.
Both the OCHA statistics and the WHO statement do not address Israel’s claim that it has been able to identify rocket and other fire coming from the facilities, indicating the presence of fighters and ammunition there.
Israel accuses Hamas of using human shields, including in hospitals, to deter the IDF from attacking terror-related targets. When striking such sensitive targets, the IDF takes precautions to avoid civilian casualties, such as warning medical staff to evacuate civilians from the premises before striking them.