Home News As displaced Palestinians seek safety, Israel advances toward Rafah

As displaced Palestinians seek safety, Israel advances toward Rafah

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The Israeli military said it was continuing its ground offensive in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday despite the deteriorating situation. International outrage There have been concerns about its actions there, including airstrikes that killed dozens of civilians over the weekend.

The military said its forces were engaged in close combat with Hamas fighters and had sent an additional “combat team” to Rafah, but did not specify how many troops it had sent to the southern city.

The military said Sunday’s attack in Rafah targeted a Hamas compound, sparking a fire that killed at least 45 people.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the killing of civilians in the camp, many of whom were displaced from other parts of Gaza, was a “tragic accident.”

However, his comments did little to quell calls for accountability and an end to the fighting, with another Critical Strike Tuesday in nearby Al-Mawasi.

Gaza official Dr. Mohammed al-Mogaye of the Palestinian Civil Defense Organization said the attack on Tuesday hit the tents of displaced people in Al-Mawasi, near the city of Rafah, killing at least 21 people and injuring dozens. Israel has declared an area of ​​Al-Mawasi a humanitarian safety zone. Tuesday’s attack appeared to take place near the humanitarian safety zone, but not inside it, according to video verified by The New York Times.

The Israeli military had previously asked civilians to go to Al-Mawasi and said its attacks were not carried out within the safe zone.

Video footage verified by The New York Times showed multiple deaths and injuries in the agricultural area of ​​Al-Mawasi, where civilians were hiding. Footage verified by The New York Times showed chaos at the scene, with women and children screaming next to bodies on the ground.

The New York Times verified the location of the video by matching footage of the incident with satellite imagery of the area, but could not immediately verify whether the damage was caused by an Israeli airstrike.

About a million people fled Rafah during the Israeli attack. According to the United NationsThe exodus is the latest in a series of recent incidents in Rafah, once a major destination for people fleeing war. Shift string Launched from Israel The war to dismantle HamasThe militant group led deadly attacks on Israel on October 7.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday that “tragic is not a good enough word to describe” the aftermath of the Camp Fire sparked by an airstrike on Sunday.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday that the United States had expressed its “deep concern” to the Israeli government about the attack and requested more information about it and the ensuing conflict.

“Israel has said there may be a Hamas ammunition depot near the site of the attack,” Miller said. “That is a very important factual question that needs to be answered.”

Miller said the U.S. position is that “we do not want to see a large-scale military operation in Rafah” similar in scale to previous Israeli attacks in Khan Yunis and Gaza City. “At this point, we have not seen a military operation on the scale of previous operations,” Miller said.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Tuesday cited the “deeply distressing” scenes from Sunday’s attack on the Rafah camp – footage showed bodies charred beyond recognition – and called for a “swift and full” investigation.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a news conference on Tuesday that the investigation was examining “all possibilities” to determine the cause of the fire at the camp on Sunday, including whether weapons were “stored in a compound next to the target.”

He said Israeli warplanes fired the “smallest munitions” they had available, insisting “it would have been impossible to cause a fire of this magnitude with our munitions alone.”

Admiral Hajari said that even if the cause of the fire is determined, “the situation will still be very tragic.”

General Hajari did not say the Israeli military would halt operations in Rafah, where Hamas fired rockets early Sunday, sending sirens through Tel Aviv for the first time in months. When asked by reporters whether tanks had entered the center of Rafah, Hajari did not directly answer, saying Hamas forces were still in Rafah and that the Israeli army was operating in a “targeted” manner.

China on Tuesday joined a growing number of countries in condemning Israel’s actions. Beijing expressed “serious concern” about the Israeli military’s actions in Rafah and cited an order from the International Court of Justice last week that appeared to call on Israel to stop its military offensive against the city. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said China “opposes any violation of international law” and “strongly urges Israel to listen to the voice of the international community and stop attacking Rafah.”

But the wording of the court order was vague, requiring Israel to immediately stop any actions in Rafah “that could impose conditions on the Palestinian population in Gaza that would lead to its total or partial destruction.” Israeli officials argued that the ruling allowed them to continue fighting in Rafah because the military would not create such conditions.

Residents in Rafah and surrounding areas reported heavy bombardment.

“It was a bloody and difficult night,” said Nedal Kuhail, 30, as he prepared to leave the apartment in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood west of Rafah on Tuesday afternoon where he and his family have lived since the war began. “Danger was chasing us from all sides.”

Tal-Sultan is located in the same area where Israel said it launched a deadly attack on a Hamas compound on Sunday, killing two of the group’s commanders.

Mr. Kuhail said by telephone that an explosion occurred on the lower floors of his building on Monday night and that another apartment nearby was also hit. He said he saw several people killed or wounded. “This prompted us to make a quick decision to leave Rafah in order to survive,” he said.

Mr. Kuhail estimated that more than 85 percent of the remaining people in his area had fled since Tuesday morning because of the terror they had endured the previous night. Reuters video on Tuesday showed people leaving parts of Rafah, some on foot, others in horse-drawn carriages, as explosions and gunfire echoed through the streets.

Mr. Kuhayil said he found an empty warehouse in the Deir al-Balah area in central Gaza that he could rent to his family. Although the warehouse was empty and had no electricity, water or toilet, Mr. Kuhayil said he was grateful that he at least had a place to go, unlike many others who had fled.

Reported by Arrieta Leka, Christian Tribert, Iyad Abu Hwella, Alexandra Stevenson, Johnson Rice Abu Bakr al-Bashir and Stephen Crowley

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