Unrepentant Israel kills 21 in strike on another camp

Published May 29, 2024
Rafah: A man stands amid scattered belongings of displaced Gazans at a tent camp destroyed by an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday.—Reuters
Rafah: A man stands amid scattered belongings of displaced Gazans at a tent camp destroyed by an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday.—Reuters

RAFAH: Another str­ike on a camp for displa­ced Palestinians claimed 21 lives on Tuesday, tanks rolled through the centre of the southern Gaza city, which has been a refuge for those fleeing Israeli bombardment.

The tank strike in Al Mawasi came a day after a similar deadly attack on a separate tent city in Rafah set off a fire that killed 45 people, incinerating many. Sunday’s strike had prom­pted global outrage and even let to Israeli leaders expressing some remorse about their actions.

However, Tuesday’s attack indicated that Israel has no intention of changing course or abiding by an International Court of Justice ruling to stop the offensive in Rafah.

In the latest bloodshed, a Gaza civil defence agency official said 21 people were killed in an “occupation strike targeting the tents of displaced people” in west Rafah.

In Rafah, residents and a Palestinian security source said Israeli tanks had now penetrated the heart of the southern city.

At least 12 of the dead were women, according to medical officials in the Palestinian enclave.

But Israel’s military later said in a statement: “Contrary to the reports from the last few hours, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) did not strike in the Humanitarian Area in Al-Mawasi.” Tuesday’s incident in Al-Mawasi occurred in an area designated by Israel as an expanded humanitarian zone.

Israel had urged Palestinian civilians in Rafah, including around one million displaced by the almost eight-month-old war, to evacuate there when it launched its incursion in early May.

In central Rafah, tanks and armoured vehicles mounted with machineguns were spotted near Al-Awda mosque, a city landmark, witnesses told Reuters.

The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the Rafah area, without commenting on reported advances into the city centre.

Witnesses in central Rafah said the Israeli military appeared to have brought in remote-operated armoured vehicles and there was no immediate sign of personnel in or around them. An Israeli military spokesperson had no immediate comment.

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

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.”

Air strikes and shelling had battered Gaza overnight Monday-Tuesday —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.

Faten Jouda, a 30-year-old resident, described the situation. “There was random bombing from all directions… We saw everyone fleeing again,” she told AFP. “We too will go now and head to Al-Mawasi because we fear for our lives.

The Israeli offensive has killed at least 36,096 people in Gaza, so far.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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