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At least 25 dead as Israel pounds camps near Rafah in Gaza

FILE - Displaced Palestinians inspect their tents destroyed by Israel's bombardment, adjunct to an UNRWA facility west of Rafah city, Gaza Strip, on May 28, 2024.
FILE - Displaced Palestinians inspect their tents destroyed by Israel's bombardment, adjunct to an UNRWA facility west of Rafah city, Gaza Strip, on May 28, 2024. Copyright AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi, File
Copyright AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi, File
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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The attacks were just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone and near to a Red Cross field hospital that was damaged in the shelling.

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Israeli forces shelled tent camps for displaced Palestinians outside Gaza's southern city of Rafah on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding another 50, according to the territory's health officials and emergency workers.

This was the latest deadly attack in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands have fled fighting between Israel and Hamas.

It 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.

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

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the hospital was flooded with casualties, including 22 dead and 45 wounded, and condemned the firing of “high-calibre projectiles” a few meters from the facility. Hundreds of people live in tents nearby, including many of the hospital staff, the ICRC said.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers about Friday's shelling at two locations in a coastal area that has become filled with makeshift tents. The Health Ministry in Gaza reported the number of people killed and wounded in the attacks.

The locations of the attacks provided by the Civil Defence and the Red Cross hospital appear to be just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone on the Mediterranean coast, known as Muwasi.

Israel denies attack on 'humanitarian 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 Israel's armed forces. It did not offer details on the episode or say what the intended targets might have been.

Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of the “humanitarian zone” in Muwasi, a rural area with no water or sewage systems where displaced Palestinians have built tent camps in recent months.

A Palestinian woman takes a last look at a loved one killed by Israeli bombardment, before his burial in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024.
A Palestinian woman takes a last look at a loved one killed by Israeli bombardment, before his burial in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024. Jehad Alshrafi/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved

Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure and that it tries to minimise civilian deaths. It blames the large number of civilian casualties on militants and says it’s because they operate among the population.

With Israel’s war against Hamas now in its ninth month, international criticism is growing over the campaign of systematic destruction in Gaza, at a huge cost in civilian lives. The top United Nations court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

Civilian casualties also reported elsewhere

Elsewhere, Civil Defence teams in the northern Gaza Strip recovered the bodies of five people who were killed in an airstrike that hit two apartments in Gaza City, and several others were wounded. An airstrike earlier on Friday hit a municipal garage in the city and killed five people.

Fadel Naeem, the orthopaedic chief at al-Ahli hospital, said the bodies of 30 people were brought there on Friday, calling it “a difficult and brutal day in Gaza City.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said on Friday that two soldiers were killed in combat in central Gaza. No information was given about the circumstances of the deaths of the two, both men in their 20s. Three other Israeli soldiers were severely injured, the army said.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ 7 October attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

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