21 Killed In Fresh Israeli Strike On Displacement Camp In West Rafah

Further air and artillery strikes rained down on the besieged Gaza Strip overnight (image)


A civil defence official in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said Israeli forces struck a displaced persons camp in the western town of Rafah on Tuesday, killing at least 21 people. A similar attack just days earlier sparked global outrage.

Mohammed al-Mugair said they were killed “in an attack by the occupation forces targeting tents of displaced people in the western part of Rafah.” Hamas said the Israeli attack had caused “dozens of martyrs and wounded” in the area.

Palestinian officials said Israeli tanks had entered the center of Rafah despite a widely condemned airstrike two days earlier on the crowded camp in the southern Gaza Strip that killed 45 people.

One witness said Israeli tanks were “parked at Al-Awda intersection in the center of Rafah city.”

Palestinian security sources said tanks had been deployed in the centre of Rafah, where Israeli forces launched a controversial ground offensive earlier this month.

“People are staying inside now because anyone who moves will be shot by Israeli drones,” said resident Abdel Khatib.

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council is due to convene at 7.15pm GMT to discuss Sunday’s attack on the displaced persons camp, but the situation in Rafah remains tense.

In a statement issued hours before the meeting, the Israeli army said it was “impossible” that the weapons used in Sunday’s attack caused the deadly fire in the Rafah refugee camp.

“Our munitions alone would not have been able to start a fire of this magnitude,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Daniel Hagari said.

Hundreds of civilians were also injured in the attack on Sunday evening, doctors said, and it drew worldwide condemnation.

Scenes of burnt carnage, charred bodies and children being rushed to hospital prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to declare: “No place is safe in Gaza. This horror must stop.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack a “tragic accident” but vowed to continue the operation to destroy Hamas and bring all hostages home after the October 7 strikes.

Further air and artillery bombardment rained down overnight on the besieged Gaza Strip, including in the Tal al-Sultan area, where a fire broke out at a displaced camp near the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) facility.

“The situation is very dangerous,” said resident Faten Jouda, 30. “I couldn’t sleep the whole night. There was indiscriminate bombing from all directions, artillery fire, air strikes and firing from aircraft.”

“I saw people fleeing again,” she told AFP. “We are now heading to Al Mawashi too because our lives are in danger,” she said, referring to a nearby coastal area that Israel has declared a safe “humanitarian zone”.

UNRWA said one million civilians have fled Rafah city since Israel launched its offensive on the city in early May, despite repeated warnings from the international community.

“This all happened with no safe shelter, bombings, food and water shortages, mountains of rubbish and inadequate living conditions,” the post on X read.

State of Palestine

More than seven months into the deadliest Gaza war, Israel faces ever-increasing global opposition as well as legal challenges in two Netherlands-based international courts.

In a landmark political move on Tuesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain formally recognised the state of Palestine, a step that has been taken by more than 140 UN member states but which has been recognised by only a handful of Western governments.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the recognition was “not only a matter of historical justice, but also an indispensable requirement for us all to achieve peace.”

“This is the only way to move towards a solution that we all recognize as the only way to achieve a peaceful future – a future in which a Palestinian state lives side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.”

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said the aim was to keep alive hopes for peace in the Middle East and called on Israel to “end the humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

Israel denounced the recognition as a “reward” to the Islamist group Hamas and recalled its diplomatic missions from Madrid, Dublin and Oslo.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz went further on Tuesday, attacking Mr Sanchez with an X and saying: “You are an accomplice in inciting the genocide of the Jews.”

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alvarez said the three governments would launch a “coordinated response” to Israel that would be “calm but firm”.

‘Hell on Earth’

The Gaza conflict began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 that has resulted in more than 1,170 people being killed, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Hamas also took 252 hostages, of which 121 remain in Gaza, and the military says 37 have been killed.

According to the Gaza Strip Ministry of Health, Israeli retaliatory attacks have killed at least 36,096 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians.

The Israeli military said the attack on Sunday night, which killed dozens of people at a displaced persons camp, targeted two senior Hamas officials.

The paper said the planes “strike Hamas facilities” and killed senior Hamas officials Yasin Rabiya and Khaled Nagar in the occupied West Bank.

The attack came hours after Hamas launched a barrage of rockets towards Tel Aviv, most of which were intercepted.

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

“Last night’s images demonstrate how Rafah has become hell on earth,” UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said on Monday.

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

A spokesman for the US National Security Council said Israel “must take every precaution to protect its civilians.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)