DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza – At least five Palestinians were killed and 70 others injured on Monday by several Israeli tank shells fired by at al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza.

The bombing carried on throughout much of the day, and according to hospital sources continued well into the evening.

One patient was killed while patients, visitors and hospital staff were among those injured and some 20 medical workers caught up in the shelling, said Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, head of public relations at the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The strike has left the hospital unable to receive or treat medical cases, with ambulances forced to try and ferry the wounded to other facilities.

However, two ambulances which tried to move the wounded to Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, were then also hit by tank shells.

According to Qudra, the missile damaged several operating rooms as well as key equipment including an oxygen production unit, which is used in a wide range of operations and procedures.

The third and fourth floors and the reception area as well as the upper floor have all been badly damaged, medical sources told the Middle East Eye.

Subsequent rounds of shelling then proceeded to damage the x-ray facilities and maternity wards.

Israel has repeatedly denied targeting medical facilities, although it does routinely insist that Hamas uses civilian infrastructure including houses, schools and hospitals to hide weapons.

“You are allowed to hit targets where their [Hamas] war machine is using to hide rockets,” Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Al Jazeera:

“I have no doubt Hamas uses, has used and continues to use, hospitals … we do not target civilians. But I am not aware of this specific situation.”

Dr. Khalil Khattab was operating on a patient injured in a separate strike when the shells first hit. He quickly ran downstairs and saw many of his colleagues injured. Many had been hit while trying to treat patients, but now patients, doctors and nurses alike lay injured and bleeding.

“The elevator is destroyed and all hospital assets are badly damaged,” Khattab told MEE, inspecting the destruction around him.

[[{“fid”:”66043″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Ambulances leaving al-Aqsa hospital were reportedly hit by Israeli shelling (MEE / Eloise Bollack)”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Ambulances leaving al-Aqsa hospital were reportedly hit by Israeli shelling (MEE / Eloise Bollack)”},”type”:”media”,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]