Israel Attack on Rafah Tent Camp Kills 45

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Israeli airstrike triggered a massive blaze killing 45 people in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court order to halt the assault.

In scenes grimly familiar from a war in its eighth month, Palestinian families rushed to hospitals to prepare their dead for burial after the strike late on Sunday night set tents and rickety metal shelters ablaze.

Israel said initial investigations showed an attack against commanders of the Hamas militant group set off the fire.

Survivors said families were preparing to sleep when the strike hit.

“We were praying…and we were getting our children’s beds ready to sleep. There was nothing unusual, then we heard a very loud noise, and fire erupted around us,” said Umm Mohamed Al-Attar, a Palestinian mother in a red headscarf.

All the children started screaming… The sound was terrifying; we felt like the metal was about to collapse on us, and shrapnel fell into the rooms.

The attack took place in the Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood, where thousands were sheltering after Israeli forces began a ground offensive in the east of Rafah over two weeks ago.

A fire raging in the darkness and people screaming in panic. A group of young men tried to haul away sheets of corrugated iron and a hose from a single fire truck began to douse the flames. Reports said

More than half of the dead were women, children, and elderly people, health officials in Hamas-run Gaza said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise from people with severe burns.

Israel’s military said Sunday’s strike, based on “precise intelligence,” had eliminated Hamas’ chief of staff for the second and larger Palestinian territory, the West Bank, plus another official behind attacks on Israelis.
That followed the interception of eight rockets fired towards Israel from the Rafah area.

Israel has kept up attacks despite a ruling by the top U.N. court on Friday ordering it to stop, arguing that the court’s ruling grants it some scope for military action there.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “outraged” over Israel’s latest attacks. “These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians,” he said on X.

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the International Court of Justice ruling must be respected. “International humanitarian law applies for all, also for Israel’s conduct of the war,” Baerbock said.

By daylight, the camp was a smoking wreckage of tents, twisted metal and charred belongings.

Women wept and men held prayers beside bodies in shrouds.

 

 

Reuters/Shakirat Sadiq

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