Gaza Officials Say 45 Killed As Israeli Strikes Set Tents Ablaze

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Rafah, Palestinian Territories: Gaza's civil defence agency said Monday that the death toll had risen to 45 from overnight Israeli strikes that set ablaze tents of displaced Palestinians in Rafah, an attack that sparked condemnation across the Arab world.

Israel's army said the air strikes late Sunday, hours after a rocket attack had targeted Tel Aviv, had killed two senior Hamas operatives, and that it was investigating the reports of civilians killed in a fire.

The Israeli attack sparked strong protests from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and from Qatar which warned it could "hinder" budding steps to revive stalled truce and hostage release talks in the Israel-Hamas war raging since October 7.

Gaza's civil defence agency said Monday that many bodies were "charred" after the strikes triggered a fire that ripped through a displacement centre in northwest Rafah.

"The massacre committed by the Israeli occupation army in the refugee tents northwest of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip has left 45 martyrs and 65 wounded," said agency official Mohammad al-Mughayyir.

"We saw charred bodies and dismembered limbs ... We also saw cases of amputations, wounded children, women and the elderly."

"The Rafah massacre yesterday left 45 martyrs, including 23 women, children and elderly. There are 249 others who were wounded," the health ministry in Gaza said in a statement.

Footage released by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society showed chaotic night-time scenes of paramedics in ambulances racing to the fiery attack site and evacuating the wounded, including children.

"We had just done with the evening prayers," recalled one survivor, a Palestinian woman who declined to be named.

"Our children were asleep ... suddenly we heard a loud sound and there was fire all around us. The children were screaming ... the sound was terrifying."

The ICRC said that one of its field hospitals was receiving an "influx of casualties seeking care for injuries and burns" and that "our teams are doing their best to save lives".

AFP images after sunrise showed the charred remains of makeshift tents and vehicles as Palestinian families looked at the blackened destruction.

Mughayyir said the rescue efforts were hampered by war damage and the impacts of Israel's siege on the territory amid the over seven-months-old conflict.

"There is a fuel shortage ... there are roads that have been destroyed, which hinders the movement of civil defence vehicles in these targeted areas," he said. "There is also a shortage of water to extinguish fires."

'Dangerous violation'

Egypt deplored the "targeting of defenceless civilians" and labelled it part of "a systematic policy aimed at widening the scope of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip to make it uninhabitable".

Jordan also expressed its condemnation, accusing Israel of committing "ongoing war crimes".

Kuwait charged the attack exposed Israel's "blatant war crimes and unprecedented genocide to the whole world".

And Qatar condemned the Israeli bombing as a "dangerous violation of international law".

After the latest violence, Qatar's foreign ministry voiced "concern that the bombing will complicate ongoing mediation efforts and hinder reaching an agreement for an immediate and permanent ceasefire".


The Peninsula

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