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Middle East

Israeli strike on a tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, results in 45 deaths

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • An Israeli airstrike triggered a massive fire that killed at least 45 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in a tent camp in Rafah designated as a "safe zone" for displaced civilians. 6
  • The attack drew widespread international condemnation, with global leaders urging Israel to implement the International Court of Justice's order to halt its military offensive in Rafah and release hostages held by Hamas. 
  • Israel claimed the strike targeted two senior Hamas commanders responsible for attacks, but survivors said families were simply preparing for sleep when the bombs hit the densely populated camp. 

In a tragic escalation of the long-running Gaza conflict, an Israeli airstrike triggered a massive blaze that claimed at least 45 lives in a tent camp in the city of Rafah on May 26. The deadly attack has drawn widespread global condemnation, with world leaders and humanitarian organizations urging an immediate ceasefire and implementation of a recent World Court ruling to halt Israel's military offensive in the region.

The airstrike, which occurred late in the evening, set tents and rickety shelters ablaze in the designated "safe zone" of western Rafah. Survivors recount the horrifying moments when families were preparing for sleep, only to be jolted by the deafening explosion and engulfed in flames. "We were praying... and we were getting our children's beds ready to sleep. There was nothing unusual. Then, we heard a very loud noise, and fire erupted," a witness recounted.

In the aftermath, Palestinian families rushed to overwhelmed hospitals to claim the bodies of their loved ones, many wrapped in shrouds. "The whole world is witnessing Rafah getting burnt up by Israel, and no one is doing anything to stop it," lamented Bassam, a Rafah resident, via a chat app.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) described the situation as "horrifying," stating, "Gaza is hell on earth. Images from last night are yet another testament to that." With hospitals in Rafah, including the International Committee of the Red Cross field hospital, unable to handle the influx of wounded, some victims had to be transported to facilities in the nearby city of Khan Younis.

The Israeli military has justified the ongoing offensive, codenamed Operation Protective Edge, as a necessary measure to root out Hamas militants and rescue hostages allegedly held in Rafah. However, the operation, now in its eighth month, has drawn intense criticism from the international community for the disproportionate civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis it has caused.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, key players in the region, have strongly condemned the Rafah tent camp attack, with Qatar warning that it could hinder efforts to mediate a ceasefire and hostage exchange. The United Nations and global leaders have echoed these sentiments, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and adherence to the recent International Court of Justice ruling that deemed Israel's offensive in Gaza illegal.

As the death toll continues to rise, with nearly 36,000 Palestinians killed since the start of the operation according to Gaza's Health Ministry, the world watches in horror at the unfolding tragedy. The Rafah tent camp attack serves as a grim reminder of the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that prioritizes the protection of civilian lives and upholds international humanitarian law.

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