Saturday , July 13 2024

Dozens killed near Gaza office of Red Cross


GENEVA/ GAZA CITY: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says dozens of people have been killed in a shelling attack that damaged its Gaza office, which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced Palestinians living in tents.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said there were 39 dead and 50 injured in the shelling, which it blamed on Israel. The ministry said Israeli shelling on Friday had “targeted the tents of the displaced in the al-Mawasi area”, which is around the ICRC base.

Witnesses told the Associated Press (AP) that some people were killed as they went to help others who panicked after an initial bombardment.

The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy-calibre projectiles” but in a statement on social media platform X said the shells “damaged the structure of the ICRC office”.

It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties”.

Al-Mawasi had been designated as a humanitarian “safe zone” by Israel and thousands of people had fled there following Israel’s assault on the southern city of Rafah.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers that shelling had taken place at two locations in the coastal area, which is filled with makeshift tents.

Media said the locations of the attacks provided by the Civil Defence appeared to be just outside the safe zone.

The Israeli military said the episode was under review but that “there is no indication that a strike was carried out by the IDF” inside the safe zone, using an acronym for the Israeli forces. It did not provide details on the episode or say what the intended targets might have been.

Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of al-Muwasi, a rural area with no water or sewage systems and where Palestinians have been living in desperate conditions.

“Two tanks climbed a hilltop overseeing Mawasi and they sent balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area,” one resident told the news agency Reuters over a chat app.

Other witnesses whose relatives died in one of the bombardments near the Red Cross field hospital told AP that Israeli forces fired a second volley that killed people who came out of their tents.

The attack began with a munition that only made a loud bang and bright flash, said Mona Ashour, who lost her husband after he went to investigate what was happening.

“We were in our tent and they hit with a ‘sound bomb’ near the Red Cross tents, and then my husband came out at the first sound,” Ashour said, holding back tears while clutching a young girl outside Nasser Hospital in nearby Khan Younis.

“And then they hit with the second one, which was a little closer to the entrance of the Red Cross,” she said.

Hasan al-Najjar said his sons were killed helping people who panicked after the first strike.

“My two sons went after they heard the women and children screaming,” he said at the hospital. “They went to save the women, and they struck with the second projectile, and my sons were martyred. They struck the place twice.”

The attack comes less than a month after an Israeli bombing triggered a deadly fire that tore through a camp for displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza, drawing widespread international outrage including from some of Israel’s closest allies over the military’s expanding offensive into Rafah. (Int’l News Desk)

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