Gaza civil defence says 21 dead in new Israeli strike on Gaza camp

Gaza civil defence says death toll from Israeli strikes on Rafah camp rises to 40
Source: Video Screenshot

A civil defence official in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said an Israeli strike ona displacement camp west of Rafah on Tuesday killed at least 21 people, days after a similar strike that sparked global outrage.

Mohammad al-Mughayyir said they were killed in an “occupation strike targeting the tents of displaced people west of Rafah.” Hamas said an Israeli strike had caused “dozens of martyrs and wounded” in the area.

It came as Israeli tanks penetrated the heart of Rafah, according to Palestinian officials, despite widespread condemnation over an air strike on a crowded camp in the southern Gaza city that killed 45 people two days earlier.

Israeli tanks were “stationed on the Al-Awda roundabout in the centre of the city of Rafah”, one witness said.

A Palestinian security source said tanks were in central Rafah, where Israeli troops launched a controversial ground assault earlier this month.

“People are currently inside their homes because anyone who moves is being shot at by Israeli drones,” one resident, Abdel Khatib, said.

With an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting at 1915 GMT due to discuss Sunday’s strike on the displaced camp, the situation remains tense in Rafah.

In a statement issued hours before the meeting, Israel’s military said the weapons used in Sunday’s strike “could not” have caused the deadly blaze in the Rafah camp.

“Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size,” said military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

Sunday evening’s strike, which medics said also wounded hundreds of civilians, drew worldwide condemnation.

The sight of the charred carnage, blackened corpses and children being rushed to hospitals led UN chief Antonio Guterres to declare that “there is no safe place in Gaza. This horror must stop.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike a “tragic accident” but also vowed to continue the campaign to destroy Hamas over the October 7 attack and bring home all the hostages.

More air strikes and shelling rained down overnight on besieged Gaza — including the Tal al-Sultan area where the displacement camp went up in flames near a facility of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

“The situation is very dangerous,” said resident Faten Jouda, 30. “We didn’t sleep all night. There was random bombing from all directions, including artillery shelling and air bombardment as well as firing from aircraft.

“We saw everyone fleeing again,” she told AFP. “We too will go now and head to Al-Mawasi because we fear for our lives,” she said of a nearby coastal area Israel has declared a safe “humanitarian zone”.

UNRWA said one million civilians had fled Rafah since Israel launched its assault on the city in early May despite a chorus of international warnings.

“This happened with nowhere safe to go & amidst bombardments, lack of food & water, piles of waste & unsuitable living conditions,” it posted on X.

– Palestinian statehood –

More than seven months into the deadliest Gaza war, Israel has faced ever louder global opposition, as well as cases before two international courts based in the Netherlands.

In a landmark political move on Tuesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain formally recognised the State of Palestine, a step so far taken by more than 140 UN members but few Western governments.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the recognition was “not only a matter of historic justice… it is also an essential requirement if we are all to achieve peace”.

“It is the only way to move towards the solution that we all recognise as the only possible way to achieve a peaceful future: that of a Palestinian state living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security.”

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said the aim was to keep Middle East peace hopes alive, and urged Israel to “stop the humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

Israel has slammed the recognition as a “reward” for the Islamist Hamas movement, and recalled its diplomatic envoys from Madrid, Dublin and Oslo.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz went further on Tuesday and launched an attack on Sanchez on X, telling him that “you are a partner to incitement to genocide of the Jewish people”.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said the three governments would “issue a coordinated response” to Israel which he said would be “calm but firm”.

– ‘Hell on Earth’ –

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,096 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Sunday night’s attack that killed dozens in the displaced persons camp was targeting two senior Hamas members, the Israeli military said.

It said aircraft “struck a Hamas compound” and killed Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, senior officials for the group in the occupied West Bank.

The strike came hours after Hamas had fired a barrage of rockets towards Tel Aviv, with most being intercepted.

The civilian death toll in the Gaza camp prompted a wave of condemnation, with Palestinians and many Arab countries calling it a “massacre”.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said Monday that “the images from last night are testament to how Rafah has turned into hell on Earth”.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said he was “horrified” and French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “outraged”.

A US National Security Council spokesperson said Israel “must take every precaution possible to protect civilians”.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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