Israeli airstrike kills eight at Gaza aid centre

Published June 24, 2024
DISPLACED residents walk through the rubble of the damaged UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City, on Sunday.—AFP
DISPLACED residents walk through the rubble of the damaged UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City, on Sunday.—AFP

• Palestinian player, family killed in airstrike
• Tel Aviv’s forces severely criticised for tying wounded Palestinian to jeep during West Bank raid
• Hezbollah targets Israeli barracks after commander’s death
• Israeli defence minister heads to US for ‘critical’ talks on Gaza war

CAIRO: Eight Palestinians were killed on Sunday in an Israeli airstrike on a training college near Gaza City being used to distribute aid, Palestinian witnesses said, as Israeli tanks pushed further into the southern city of Rafah.

The strike hit part of a vocational college run by the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA now providing aid to displaced families, the witnesses said.

“Some people were coming to receive coupons and others had been displaced from their houses and they were sheltering here. Some were filling up water, others were receiving coupons, and suddenly we heard something falling. We ran away, those who were carrying water let it spill,” said Mohammed Tafesh, one of the witnesses.

A Reuters photographer saw a low-rise building completely demolished and bodies wrapped in blankets laid out beside the road, waiting to be taken away.

Residents said Israeli tanks had advanced to the edge of the Mawasi displaced persons’ camp in the northwest of Rafah in fierce fighting with Hamas-led fighters, part of a push into western and northern Rafah in which they had blown up dozens of houses in recent days.

Meanwhile, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli troops tied a wounded Palestinian man to a military vehicle, the army said on Sunday, admitting that soldiers had violated operational procedures.

Footage of the incident, which occurred on Saturday, has gone viral and shows a Jenin resident strapped horizontally to the bonnet of a military jeep as it passes through a narrow alley.

Medics identified the Palestinian as Mujahid Raed Abbadi, 24, from the Jabriyat neighbourhood located between the town of Burqin and Jenin.

Palestinian player, family killed

Palestinian soccer player Ahmad Abu al-Atta and his family were killed in their home by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said.

Abu al-Atta, 34, who played as a defender for the Gaza Strip team Al-Ahly Gaza, died along with his wife Ruba Esmael Abu al-Atta, a medical professional, and their two children after the airstrike hit their home in Gaza City, the PFA said in a statement released on Saturday.

Local media reported that the airstrike took place on Friday, but the PFA did not give a date.

Last Monday, the PFA said international referee Hani Mesmeh had died after sustaining wounds from an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip in May.

Hezbollah targets Israeli barracks

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said on Sunday it had targeted two military positions in northern Israel with an armed drone in response to the killing of a commander.

Israel and the powerful Iran-backed group, a Hamas ally, have exchanged near-daily cross-border fire since the start of Israel’s war of Gaza last year.

Hezbollah’s announcement came hours after it published a video excerpt purporting to show locations in Israel along with their coordinates, amid heightening fears of an all-out conflict between the two foes.

On Saturday, the Jamaa Islamiya group announced the death of one of its commanders, Ayman Ghotmeh, saying he was killed “in a treacherous Zionist raid” in Khiara in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa area.

Israel later confirmed it had carried out the strike, saying Ghotmeh was responsible for supplying the Fajr Forces, Jamaa Islamiya’s armed wing, and Hamas with weapons in the area.

Hezbollah on Sunday said its fighters launched a strike “with an attack drone” on a military leadership position in the Beit Hillel barracks “in response to the assassination carried out by the Israeli enemy in the town of Khiara”.

Israeli minister heads to US

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant was headed to Washington on Sunday for “critical” talks on the Gaza offensive and surging cross-border tensions with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced hope for speedy progress on unfreezing US arms and ammunition deliveries from Israel’s top ally which he said had dropped off sharply in recent months.

Gallant said he would “discuss developments in Gaza and Lebanon”, vowing that “we are prepared for any action that may be required in Gaza, Lebanon and in additional areas”.

He stressed that “our ties with the United States are more important than ever. Our meetings with US officials are critical to this war.”

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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