GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Missiles or rockets struck within yards of Gaza's main hospital and a nearby refugee camp Monday, leaving at least 10 dead and dozens more wounded.
The Israeli military denied initial reports that its forces were responsible for the strikes, saying instead that the bombing was the result of rockets misfired by Palestinian militants — while Hamas cast blame back at Israel.
The explosion near Shifa Hospital around 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area. Two people were injured at the hospital, according to medical officials.
Another strike occurred at the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. A Palestinian health official says at least 10 people, including children, were killed in Monday's strikes and dozens were injured. An NBC News team in the area said the strikes were in "close succession" and the round that hit the refugee camp exploded in the middle of a crowded street where children had been playing.
"We came out of the mosque when I saw the children playing with their toy guns. Seconds later a missile landed," said Munther Al-Derbi, a resident of the camp. "May God punish ... Netanyahu," he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that failed rocket launches by Palestinian militants were to blame.
"A short while ago Al-Shifa hospital was struck by a failed rocket attack launched by Gaza terror organizations. A barrage of three rockets that were aimed towards Israel, struck the hospital. At the time of the incident there was no Israeli military activity in the area surrounding the hospital whatsoever. "
Hamas later text messaged a statement to journalists, blaming the IDF — and alleged they had proof of Israeli responsibility.
"The story being put forth by the 'Occupation' that resistance rockets fell in Shifa Hospital and at the Children's Park in the Al-Shati Refugee camp is a failed attempt to escape from this crime and its fears that this crime will be exposed and held judicially accountable," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
"In addition, Israeli shrapnel has been collected as evidence from these scenes," the message from Zuhri said.
Early reports from the ground had said an Israeli drone appeared responsible for the attack.
Israel has been criticized for several strikes which hit hospitals in the Gaza Strip during its recent offensive.
Last week, charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said health workers in Gaza were coming under fire and urged Israel to stop its strikes.
The United Nations also Israel may have committed war crimes by shelling hospitals and civilian houses where it claims Hamas is hiding personnel and rockets.
The United Nations on Monday called for an "immediate" cease-fire in the fighting. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, according to a statement from his office, in which he voiced his dismay with the U.N. announcement. "It does not include a response to Israel's security needs and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip," he said.
The prime minister later said at a press conference that "We should be prepared for a continuous campaign until we achieve our mission to protect our citizens."
He said there could be no "solution" without the "demilitarization of Gaza" and the neutralization of Hamas' underground tunnels.
The IDF announced that five soldiers had been killed on Monday: One during combat operations in the southern Gaza Strip, and four others along the border as a result of mortar fire. That brings the total number of Israeli soldiers killed to 48 since the beginning of what's being called "Operation Protective Edge." Three Israeli civilians have also been killed.
The three weeks of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants has also killed over 1,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians.
Hasani Gittens and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published July 28 2014, 7:33 AM