Israeli attack on tent camp in Gaza city of Rafah kills 45, draws global condemnation

Israeli attack on tent camp in Gaza city of Rafah kills 45, draws global condemnation

CAIRO – An Israeli airstrike triggered a massive fire that killed at least 45 people in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, drawing condemnation from world leaders on May 27, who urged the implementation of a World Court ruling to stop Israel’s offensive.

In grimly familiar scenes from a war in its eighth month, Palestinian families rushed to hospitals to prepare their dead for burial after the attack on the afternoon of May 26 set tents and dilapidated shelters alight.

The women cried and the men prayed next to the bodies wrapped in shrouds.

“The whole world is witnessing Israel’s burning of Rafah, and no one is doing anything to stop it,” Bassam, a Rafah resident, said via a chat app, about the attack in an area of ​​western Rafah that has been designated a safe zone. .

Survivors said the families were preparing for bed when the attack occurred.

“We were praying… and we were preparing our children’s beds for sleep. There was nothing unusual. Then we heard a very loud noise and fire broke out around us,” said Mrs. Umm Mohamed Al-Attar.

“All the children started screaming… The sound was terrifying. We felt like the metal was about to collapse on us and shrapnel was falling into the rooms,” she said.

The attack took place in the Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, where thousands of people were taking shelter after Israeli forces began a ground offensive in eastern Rafah more than two weeks ago.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed a fire burning in the dark and people screaming in panic.

A group of young people attempted to remove corrugated iron sheets and a hose from a single fire truck began to douse the flames.

Many of the dead were women, children and the elderly, health officials said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise as some were in critical condition with severe burns.

Israel’s military said the May 26 attack, based on “accurate intelligence,” eliminated Hamas’s chief of staff for the second and largest Palestinian territory, the West Bank, as well as another official behind the attacks against Israelis.

This came after the interception of eight rockets launched towards Israel from the Rafah area.

However, Israel’s top military prosecutor called the airstrike “very serious” and said an investigation was underway.

“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) regrets any harm suffered by non-combatants during the war,” Major General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi said at a press conference on May 27.

Israel has continued attacks on Rafah despite a May 24 ruling by the U.N.’s top court that ordered them to stop, arguing that the court’s ruling gives it some scope for military action there.