Israel pounds Rafah tent camps, killing at least 25: Gaza officials

Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in Rafah Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in Rafah in the background as seen from a camp for displaced people in Khan Yunis on June 21, 2024 | AFP

Israeli forces shelled tent camps for displaced Palestinians north of Rafah on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding another 50 according to Gaza's Heath Ministry and emergency workers, in the latest deadly attack in the tiny Palestinian territory where hundreds of thousands have fled fighting between Israel and Hamas.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for the Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers about the shelling at two locations in a coastal area that has become filled with tents. The Health Ministry reported the number of people killed and wounded in the attacks.

The locations of the attacks provided by Civil Defence were just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone. The Israeli military said they were looking into the strikes at the reported coordinates. Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of the humanitarian zone in Muwasi, a rural area on the Mediterranean coast that has filled with sprawling tent camps in recent months.

The strikes came as Israel pushed ahead with its military operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza. Most have now fled Rafah, but the United Nations says no place in Gaza is safe and humanitarian conditions are dire as families shelter in tents and cramped apartments without adequate food, water, or medical supplies.

Friday's strikes took place less than a month after an Israeli bombing triggered a deadly fire that tore through a camp for displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza, drawing widespread international outrage including from some of Israel's closest allies over the military's expanding offensive into Rafah.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure and that it tries to minimize civilian deaths. It blames the large number of civilian casualties on militants and says it's because they operate among the population.

With Israel's war against Hamas now in its ninth month, international criticism is growing over Israel's campaign of systematic destruction in Gaza, at a huge cost in civilian lives. The top United Nations court has concluded there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza a charge Israel strongly denies.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,100 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel launched the war after Hamas' Oct 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people mostly civilians and abducted about 250.


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