15 June, 2024
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War on Gaza: At least 35 killed in Rafah ‘massacre’ as Israel bombs displaced Palestinians


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War on Gaza: At least 35 killed in Rafah ‘massacre’ as Israel bombs displaced Palestinians

The strikes took place in Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood, where thousands of people were taking shelter, and came two days after the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive

MEE and agencies

A Palestinian woman holds the shrouded body of a child killed in Israeli bombardment, at a clinic in Tel al-Sultan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 26 May 2024 (Eyad Baba/AFP)

The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza said late on Sunday that at least 35 people had been killed and dozens wounded in Israeli air strikes on a centre for displaced people near the Palestinian territory’s far-southern city of Rafah.

The strike took place in Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood in western Rafah, where thousands of people were taking shelter after many fled the eastern areas of the city where Israeli forces began a ground offensive over two weeks ago.

The air strikes came just two days after the International Court of Justice had ordered Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah”.

“The Israeli occupation committed a horrific massacre by bombarding intensively and intentionally the Unrwa’s Barkasat displacement centre northwest of Rafah governorate,” the office said in a statement, referring to the UN Palestinian refugee agency.

The Palestinian presidency accused Israel of deliberately targeting the centre for displaced people.

“The perpetration of this heinous massacre by the Israeli occupation forces is a challenge to all international legitimacy resolutions,” the presidency said in a statement, accusing Israeli forces of “deliberately targeting” the tents of displaced people.

Gaza’s civil defence agency said Israeli strikes had killed and wounded at least 50 people in the area, where it said 100,000 displaced people live.

‘Influx of casualties’

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri described the attack in Rafah as a “massacre”, holding the United States responsible for aiding Israel with weapons and money.

“The air strikes burnt the tents, the tents are melting and the people’s bodies are also melting,” said one of the residents who arrived at the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah.

The Israeli army said it would respond “as soon as possible” when asked for comment about the incident.

The ICRC said one of its field hospitals was receiving an “influx of casualties seeking care for injuries and burns” and reported that other hospitals were also receiving a large number of patients.

“Our teams are doing their best to save lives,” the ICRC said in a statement.

Strikes in other areas of Rafah were also reported late on Sunday, with the Kuwait Specialised Hospital saying it had received the bodies of three people, including a pregnant woman.

Israel launched a ground operation on Rafah in early May despite widespread opposition over concerns for civilians sheltering there.

Earlier on Sunday, Israel’s army said at least eight rockets were fired towards central areas of the country from Rafah.

Hamas’s armed wing said in a post on Telegram it had targeted Tel Aviv “with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians”.

Later on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement its air force had carried out strikes on Rafah in response.

At least 35 killed in Rafah ‘massacre’ as Israel bombs displaced Palestinians

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