GAZA, Oct 17 (Reuters) – About 500 Palestinians were killed in a blast at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday that Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other and that ignited protests in the West Bank and around the Middle East.

Health authorities in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said an Israeli air strike caused the blast while Israel’s military attributed it to a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group.

A Gaza civil defence chief said 300 people were killed in the blast and a health ministry official said 500 were killed.

Reuters could not independently verify who was responsible for the blast.

Before Tuesday’s blast, health authorities in Gaza said at least 3,000 people had died in Israel’s 11-day bombardment that began after a Hamas Oct. 7 rampage on southern Israeli communities in which 1,300 people were killed and around 200 were taken into Gaza as hostages.

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