Israeli air strike kills at least 20 killed in Gaza city as women and children detained

Situation 'dramatically escalating' in Khan Younis, says Red Crescent chief as Nasser Hospital runs out of medicine

Palestinian children wounded in an Israeli strike receive treatment at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. Reuters
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At least 20 people were killed in an Israeli air strike while waiting to receive humanitarian aid in central Gaza, the Health Ministry said on Thursday as the military continued intense air strikes on the war-torn enclave.

A further 150 people were injured while queuing for relief at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza city, the ministry said, which described the attack as “a new massacre against thousands of hungry people”.

The death toll is likely to rise, with dozens of seriously wounded people arriving at Al Shifa Hospital.

The strikes came hours after Israeli forces detained women and children in the Palestine Red Crescent Society's headquarters in Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis, with a nearby hospital under “complete curfew”.

Troops “stormed a residential building west of Khan Younis city, arrested all the men inside, took the women and children to the headquarters of the Red Crescent Society, and detained them inside”, sources told the Wafa news agency.

The Red Crescent headquarters are adjacent to the organisation's Al Amal Hospital, under “complete curfew” since noon on Wednesday.

The Israeli army “prohibits the movement of humanitarian teams, including ambulances, in blatant disregard for established norms”, the organisation said on Wednesday.

Gaza's crumbling health sector has reached almost complete collapse, with its last major hospital now bereft of basic supplies.

Nasser Hospital is operating at 10 per cent of its capacity and has run out of food, anaesthetic and pain relief medication, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al Qudra said on Thursday.

The ministry is now in talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross in an attempt to secure supplies, food and fuel for hospitals in Khan Younis and ICRC visits to medical workers detained by Israeli forces, he added.

PRCS employees and volunteers, including ambulance drivers and paramedics, have been killed or detained by the Israeli army in three months of the war, while air strikes have made hospitals run by the organisation unusable.

Its headquarters has also been attacked several times.

Israeli forces have intensified strikes on Khan Younis as they push farther south into the enclave, while the US and UN condemned an Israeli strike on a UN shelter hosting displaced people in the city.

Four children were killed in overnight Israeli air strikes on central Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp, Wafa reported on Thursday, while troops shelled “dozens” of Khan Younis neighbourhoods and launched air strikes near Al Nasser Hospital.

A man was also killed in a strike on a family home in the southern city of Rafah.

Khan Younis residents and displaced people have been ordered by the army to move to the coastal area of Al Mawasi, described as a “safe zone” by the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, residents and medical staff say ambulances are unable to evacuate the dead and injured from the streets of Khan Younis because of drone and sniper attacks.

Narmeen Morad, 25, fled Al Mawasi as Israeli tanks entered the area.

“We fled without any of our belongings, she told The National from Rafah. “We barely survived, people who didn’t leave are now stuck and surrounded by Israeli tanks.”

“Danger is everywhere. Israeli warplanes bombed a house in our neighbourhood just after we arrived, but where are we supposed to go?”

Secretary General of the Federation for Red Crescent Societies Jagan Chapagain said the situation in Khan Younis continues to “escalate dramatically”.

“I am extremely worried about the safety of our staff and volunteers. Despite the challenging circumstances, they continue to provide life-saving humanitarian support to those in need,” he said on X.

“Their safety must be ensured. The need for an urgent de-escalation has never been greater.”

A PRCS spokeswoman told The National on Monday that about 8,0000 people were sheltering in Al Amal complex, and were unable to move for fear of being attacked.

In Israel, anti-war protests are expected to resume this weekend after crowds gathered in Haifa and Tel Aviv last week to demand an end to the fighting that has killed more than 25,700 people in Gaza.

Demonstrators have also taken aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for early elections over his handling of the war and Israeli hostages, with 130 still in Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu has attracted further criticism in the past week after rejecting US claims he would be open to a two-state solution.

Updated: January 25, 2024, 12:07 PM