The Bishop of Norwich has spoken of his "great concern" for those he met at a hospital just two weeks before it was destroyed in the escalating conflict in Palestine and Israel.

The Rt Rev Graham Usher has said he was left feeling “numb” after the al Ahli hospital in Gaza he visited was hit by an explosion on Tuesday night.

Bishop Graham said that “4,000 to 5,000 people” had sought sanctuary in the compound of the hospital in the last few days.

He said: “Following on from the brutality of the Hamas attacks on Israel, I am just horrified by the escalation of the violence.

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“I went numb as I saw the pictures of places I’d been just two weeks ago, and I have great concern for the medics and staff who I met during that visit.”

Bishop Graham said the Anglican-run hospital had “always served the poorest of the poor” and was “politically neutral” as it does not receive political funding from Gaza.

He said: “Its funding comes from Anglican churches around the world. It is a place of sanctuary and 4,000 to 5,000 people were living in the compound in the last few days, so you can only imagine the horror.

“It has 80 beds and since the war started has received a lot of wounded patients.”

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The blast at al Ahli on Tuesday night led to worldwide condemnation, amid reports of hundreds of fatalities.

The hospital was hit by an earlier strike on Saturday night, which the bishop said damaged its cancer diagnostic centre and injured four members of staff.

Eastern Daily Press: Bishop Graham with Suhaila Tarazi, the director of the Al-Ahli Arab HospitalBishop Graham with Suhaila Tarazi, the director of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital (Image: Diocese of Norwich)

During his visit to Gaza, the bishop met the hospital’s director, Suhaila Tarazi – who he understands is safe.

The bishop described Ms Tarazi as “an amazing woman”, adding that she told him during their meeting that the mission of the hospital was “love”.