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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

‘We pulled out kids who were in pieces’: 45 Palestinians dead in Israel's attack on Rafah

Israel has faced surging international criticism over its war with Hamas, with even some of its closest allies, particularly the US, expressing outrage at civilian deaths. Israel asserts that it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world's top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt its offensive in Rafah

AP/PTI Tel Aviv Published 28.05.24, 07:36 AM
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Israel faced new condemnation on Monday for strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah that local health officials said killed at least 45 Palestinians, including displaced people living in tents that were engulfed by fire.

Israel has faced surging international criticism over its war with Hamas, with even some of its closest allies, particularly the US, expressing outrage at civilian deaths. Israel asserts that it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world's top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt its offensive in Rafah.

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Israel said it was looking into the civilian deaths, saying it struck a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants. Sunday night's attack, which appeared to be one of the war's deadliest, helped push the overall Palestinian death toll in the war above 36,000, according to the Gaza health ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and noncombatants in its tally.

“We pulled out people who were in an unbearable state," said Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the northwestern neighborhood of Tel al-Sultan. “We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal.”

The Gaza health ministry said around half of the dead were women, children and older adults. On Monday, barefoot children poked at the blackened debris as searches continued.

France, a close European ally of Israel, said it was “outraged” by the violence.

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” President Emmanuel Macron posted on X.

Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt, had been housing more than a million people displaced from other parts of the territory.

Italian defence minister Guido Crosetto said that bombings like the one in Rafah will have long-standing repercussions for Israel. “Israel with this choice is spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren. I would have preferred another decision," he told SKY TG24.

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