At least 90 killed in Israeli strike on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp
Published: 18 December 2023, 2:37:59
Israeli forces launched deadly attacks up and down the Gaza Strip on Sunday, hitting a refugee camp in the north, a hospital in the south and killing a teenage girl who had lost her leg in an earlier strike, according to Palestinian officials, media and eyewitnesses.
Israeli strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza killed 90 Palestinians on Sunday, Gaza’s health ministry spokesman told Reuters. Another missile attack on a house belonging to the Shehab family killed 24 people, Hamas Aqsa radio said, reports Reuters.
The son of Dawoud Shehab, spokesman of Hamas-ally Islamic Jihad, was among the dead, an official from the group told Reuters.
A medic said dozens of people had been killed or wounded in the Shehab family home and nearby buildings.
“We believe the number of dead people under the rubble is huge but there is no way to remove the rubble and recover them because of the intensity of Israeli fire,” he said by telephone.
In Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, medics said 12 Palestinians had been killed and dozens wounded, while in Rafah in the south, an Israeli air strike on a house left at least four people dead.
People rushed to the building to rescue those trapped under the rubble. The sound of the explosion was “as powerful as an earthquake”, Mahmoud Jarbou, who lives nearby, told Reuters.
The Israeli government said it operated against militant targets and that it takes extraordinary measures to avoid hitting civilians.
In Khan Younis in southern Gaza, residents reported hearing Israeli planes and tanks bombing and shelling and the sound of rocket-propelled grenades, apparently fired by Hamas.
The Israeli military said it had killed seven militants in an air strike on Khan Younis and found rocket manufacturing parts and three tunnel shafts near a school used as a shelter.
An Israeli tank shell hit the maternity building inside the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, killing a 13-year-old girl named Dina Abu Mehsen, according to Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra.
Al-Qidra said that Abu Mehsen had previously lost her father, mother, two of her siblings, and one of her legs during the shelling of a house in the Al-Amal neighborhood in Khan Younis a few weeks ago.
Around 19,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health officials, since Oct. 7 when Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities, and captured 240 hostages in their surprise raid.
Israeli officials say that 121 soldiers have been killed since the ground campaign began on October 27, when tanks and infantry began to push into Gaza’s cities and refugee camps.
Hopes for another ceasefire and hostage releases had been raised on Saturday when a source said Israel’s spy chief had spoken on Friday with the prime minister of Qatar, which has previously mediated hostage releases in return for a week-long ceasefire and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners.
Two security sources from Egypt – another mediator – said on Sunday Israel and Hamas were both open to a renewed ceasefire and hostage release, though disagreements remained on how it would be implemented.
“We are open to any efforts aimed at ending the Israeli aggression. This is the ground for any discussion,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said when asked for comment on the Egyptian statement.
In a further positive sign, the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza opened for aid trucks on Sunday for the first time since the outbreak of war, officials said, in a move to double the amount of food and medicine reaching Gazans.
But Israeli authorities said they were determined to fight on to eliminate Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2006 and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
“It is important for me to make clear, the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) is determined to complete the task of dismantling Hamas,” Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who traveled to Kuwait on Sunday to offer condolences on the death of Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, is expected in Israel later for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.