Israeli airstrike kills dozens at tent city in Rafah, Gaza officials say – Generic English

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An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent city for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, killed at least 45 people Sunday night and wounded 249, the Gaza Health Ministry said Monday. The Israeli military said the attack was aimed at a Hamas compound.

In a statement, the Israeli army said it was examining reports that “several civilians in the area were injured” by the airstrike and subsequent fire. A later statement said two Hamas leaders were killed in the strike.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said its ambulance teams took a “large” number of victims to the Tal as Sultan clinic and field hospitals in Rafah, where few functioning hospitals remain, and that “numerous” people were trapped in the fires in the area. place of strikes.

The attack hit the Tal as Sultan area of ​​Rafah, within what the Israeli army has designated a humanitarian zone, where it had told Palestinian civilians to take refuge before the ground offensive in Rafah, the Crescent said Red.

Israel’s assault on Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, has come under intense scrutiny, particularly after the International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to “immediately” halt its military offensive in the area. While the court has few effective means to enforce its order, it puts more pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to curb attacks on Gaza and reduce civilian casualties.

Bilal al-Sapti, 30, a construction worker in Rafah, said shrapnel from the impact shattered the tent where he was staying with his wife and two children, but that his family was unharmed.

“What kind of tent will protect us from missiles and shrapnel?” He said.

Mr al-Sapti said that at the scene of the strike he saw charred bodies and people screaming as firefighters tried to put out the flames. “The fire was very strong and was all over the field,” he said. “It was dark and without electricity.”

Doctors Without Borders said more than 15 people killed and dozens injured in the Rafah attack were taken to a trauma stabilization center it supports in Tal as Sultan.

Dr James Smith, a British emergency specialist in Rafah who worked at that centre, said the attack killed displaced people who were “seeking some degree of refuge and shelter in tarpaulin tents”.

Speaking from a home a few miles away from the trauma center, a distance he said had become too dangerous to cross, Dr. Smith said footage shared by his colleagues at the trauma center of injuries from the strike and fire were “Truly some of the worst I’ve ever seen.

Although the United Nations estimates that more than 800,000 people fled Rafah in the space of a few weeks after the Israeli army announced the offensive, the area remains densely populated, Dr. Smith said.

“These are very, very dense tents,” he said. “And a fire like this could spread over a huge distance with catastrophic consequences in a very, very short space of time.”

The attack was “one of the most horrific things I have ever seen or heard about in all the weeks I have been working in Gaza,” he added.

Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, the Israeli military’s top legal official, said Monday that the airstrike was under review. He said military police have opened about 70 criminal investigations into potential misconduct during the war.

“Of course, in a war of such scale and intensity, complex incidents also occur,” General Tomer-Yerushalmi said in a speech to the Israeli Bar Association. “Some of the accidents, like the one last night in Rafah, are very serious.” He added that the army “regrets any harm suffered by non-involved civilians during the war.”

Reporting contribution was provided by Patrick Kingsley, Johnatan Reiss, Iyad Abuheweila AND Aaron Boxerman.

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