Israel shelled Al-Quds Hospital and the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the U.N. and witnesses said.
A wing of a hospital in Gaza City caught fire on Thursday after an Israeli strike, witnesses said.
The strike occurred near the Al-Quds Hospital in the southwestern neighbourhood of Tal Al-Hawa, where hundreds of people had taken shelter from advancing Israeli tanks in the early morning hours.
About 500 people were inside the hospital in Tal al-Hawa when it came under attack. Many had taken shelter in the hope of escaping the onslaught.
The UN also suspended its operations in Gaza after Israeli shells smashed into its compound, setting fire to warehouses of badly-needed aid and prompting outrage from UN chief Ban Ki-moon as he arrived in Israel.
Among the buildings hit in the center of Gaza City, the witnesses said, was one housing the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that assists Palestinian refugees and another occupied by several media organizations.
According to an official of UNRWA, the UN's main agency for Palestinian refugees, one of the buildings set ablaze in the attack contained hundreds of tonnes of relief aid.
Chris Gunness, a Jerusalem-based spokesman for the agency, said hundreds of people had been taking refuge inside the compound when it was hit.
Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 16:49
"The building is on fire and we are unable to put it out. Five field vehicles are inside the compound," he said.
Another humanitarian group, CARE International, said it too had been forced to suspend all deliveries of food and medical supplies due to heavy bombardment in and around its warehouses and distribution sites in Gaza City.
Palestinians arriving with injured relatives at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Thursday, some barefoot and in nightgowns, told of intense Israeli shelling in several neighborhoods including the Sabra and Tufah districts. Two television cameramen arrived for treatment after the building housing the media offices was hit. They had been filming from a window, they said.