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Palestinian children sit at the edge of a crater after an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis. Alamy Stock Photo
Palestinian health ministry

At least 25 killed in Israeli strikes on tents for displaced people near Rafah

The locations of the attacks provided by Civil Defence were just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone.

ISRAELI FORCES SHELLED tent camps for displaced Palestinians north of Rafah today, killing at least 25 people and wounding another 50, according to Gaza’s heath ministry and emergency workers.

It is the latest attack in the Palestinian territory where hundreds of thousands have fled amid Israel’s offensive against Hamas following the 7 October attacks.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for the Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers about the shelling at two locations in a coastal area that has become filled with tents.

The Gaza health ministry reported the number of people killed and wounded in the attacks.

The locations of the attacks provided by Civil Defence were just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone.

The Israeli military said they were looking into the strikes at the reported coordinates.

Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of the “humanitarian zone” in Muwasi, a rural area on the Mediterranean coast that has filled with sprawling tent camps in recent months.

It comes amid further cross-border fire between Israel and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement, with fears of an even wider war growing.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the clashes must not turn Lebanon into “another Gaza”, adding that increased “bellicose rhetoric” from both sides risked triggering a catastrophe “beyond imagination”.

Just before midnight on Thursday, Israel’s army said it had “successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon”.

Early today, Lebanese official media reported new Israeli strikes in the south.

a-man-drives-his-motorcycle-past-a-damaged-building-from-previous-shelling-attacks-from-lebanon-in-kiryat-shmona-northern-israel-wednesday-june-19-2024-hezbollah-began-attacking-israel-almost-i A man drives his motorcycle past a damaged building, from previous shelling attacks from Lebanon, in northern Israel. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

They came after Hezbollah said it had fired dozens of rockets at a barracks in northern Israel on Thursday in retaliation for a deadly air strike in south Lebanon. Israel said a Hezbollah operative was killed in that strike.

It said jets struck Hezbollah sites and used artillery “to remove threats in multiple areas in southern Lebanon”.

Hezbollah claimed a number of attacks on Israeli troops and positions near the border today, including two using drones.

Experts are divided on the prospect of a wider war, almost nine months into Israel’s campaign to eradicate Hamas.

Exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel have escalated, and Israel’s military said on Tuesday plans for an offensive in Lebanon “were approved and validated”.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said “no place” in Israel would “be spared our rockets” in a wider war, and also threatened nearby European Union member Cyprus.

Israel’s ally the United States has appealed for de-escalation.

Two soldiers killed

The violence on the Lebanon border began after the 7 October attack by Hamas in southern Israel. That attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza although the army says 41 are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,431 people, also mostly civilians, especially woman and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Months of negotiations towards a truce and a hostage release have failed to make headway, but mediator Qatar insisted today it was still working to “bridge the gap” between Israel and Hamas.

The current conflict has destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure and left residents short of food, fuel and other essentials.

On 16 June, the army said it would implement a daily “tactical pause of military activity” in a southern Gaza corridor to facilitate aid delivery.

But today, Richard Peeperkorn of the World Health Organization (WHO) said “we did not see an impact on the humanitarian supplies coming in”.

Hisham Salem in Jabalia camp told AFP: “The markets… used to be full, but now there is nothing left. I go around the entire market and I can’t find a kilo of onions, and if I do… it costs 140 shekels (€34).”

Dr Thanos Gargavanis, a WHO trauma surgeon and emergency officer, said the UN in Gaza was trying to “operate in an unworkable environment”.

According to the WHO, only 17 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are operational, but only partially.

It said that as of 17 May, just 750 people remained in Rafah city where previously 1.4 million people had been sheltering.

Today, Israel’s military identified two more soldiers killed in Gaza, bringing to at least 312 killed since ground operations began.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges which he denies, faces regular street protests accusing him of prolonging the war, and demanding an agreement to free the hostages.

‘Vexing’ comments

But Netanyahu told relatives of captives killed in Gaza: “We will not leave the Gaza Strip until all of the hostages return.”

On Thursday he said he was “prepared to suffer personal attacks provided that Israel receives the ammunition from the US that it needs in the war for its existence”.

His statement came as an apparent doubling down after he made a video statement accusing Washington of “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel”.

The White House on Thursday described his comments as “vexing” and “disappointing”.

Except for one shipment, “there are no other pauses. None,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, referring to one paused delivery of 2,000-pound (907-kilo) bombs.

The war has revived a global push for Palestinians to be given a state of their own.

Armenia today declared its recognition of “the State of Palestine”, prompting Israel to summon its ambassador for “a severe reprimand”.

With reporting from Press Association