Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged people not to rush to judgment over the Gaza hospital tragedy which is feared to have left hundreds dead, after Israel and Hamas issued rival claims about the atrocity.

Hamas said an Israeli air strike led to the blast, with Gaza health officials saying it killed at least 500 people.

But the Israeli military said the explosion was caused by a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and released imagery and communications intercepts aimed at supporting their case.

Mr Cleverly promised the UK will work with allies “to find out what has happened and protect innocent civilians in Gaza”.

He said: “Last night, too many jumped to conclusions around the tragic loss of life at al Ahli hospital.

“Getting this wrong would put even more lives at risk.

“Wait for the facts, report them clearly and accurately. Cool heads must prevail.”

US President Joe Biden, who was visiting Israel on Wednesday, appeared to agree with Tel Aviv’s explanation of events, telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said it is a “complete and utter human tragedy” and called for an independent probe.

“I think everybody has a responsibility to condemn it and condemn it in the strongest possible way,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“It’s a complete breach of international law – the targeting of a hospital.

“There should be an independent investigation to find those who are responsible for it.”

Mr Yousaf, whose wife has family in Gaza, said: “Yesterday an Israeli missile hit a house across the road from my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s house and it shattered every window … broke all the mirrors and gave them a real fright.”

Irish Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin called for a ceasefire and reiterated a call for humanitarian aid corridors to be opened into the Gaza Strip.

Mr Biden’s visit to the region had originally included a trip to Jordan for face-to-face talks with King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but that leg of the tour was cancelled following the hospital tragedy.

Hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge at al Ahli and other hospitals in Gaza City in the past few days, hoping to be spared bombardment after Israel ordered all residents to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip.

The hospital was run by the Anglican church – and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby renewed his appeal for civilians to be protected in the “devastating war”.

Before the hospital blast, Rishi Sunak was understood to be keen on travelling to Israel – following trips by Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Mr Biden – with reports suggesting he could go as soon as Thursday.

A Palestinian man carries an elderly woman past the site of a deadly explosion at al Ahli hospital
A Palestinian man carries an elderly woman past the site of a deadly explosion at al Ahli hospital (Abed Khaled/AP/PA)

Downing Street would not comment publicly on the Prime Minister’s travel plans.

More than 900 people have been brought back from Israel and all UK nationals registered with the Foreign Office and wanting to leave have been allocated seats, it is understood.

British officials are working to secure the opening of the Rafah crossing to allow UK citizens to flee to Egypt and for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza.