NGOs call for investigation into Israeli strike on Gazan safe zone in Al Mawasi

Residential compound hosted medical teams, NGO workers and their families.

Displaced Palestinians in the so-called safe zone in Al Mawasi, Rafah, last year. Getty Images
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The International Rescue Committee and Medical Aid for Palestinians have called on Israel's allies to launch an independent investigation into an air strike on a residential compound in Gaza hosting medical teams, NGO workers and their families.

The January 18 strike targeted the compound in Al Mawasi, an area designated a “safe zone” by Israel. No one was killed, but the strike injured several staff members, damaged a building and forced the IRC to move six other staff from Gaza.

An independent multi-agency investigation by the UN carried out a day after the near-fatal attack found that the Israeli military had most likely used a GBU32 (MK83) missile package. They said it included a 1,000-pound US-manufactured “smart bomb” likely fired from an F16 jet.

Medical Aid for Palestinians, a British charity, said four British doctors were injured in the air strike, alongside MAP staff members and a bodyguard. MAP said the attack caused “significant damage” to their building and required the “withdrawal of the six international members”.

Following the attack, Alicia Kearns MP, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, informed the British parliament that MAP “had their compound bombed by an air strike from an F-16 jet”.

Both NGOs said that since the strike, the Israeli military and government had provided six different explanations as to why the air strike took place.

“Since 18 January, various parts of the Israeli military and the Israeli government have provided six different explanations as to why the air strike took place to MAP, the IRC and our interlocutors. These explanations have not provided clarity,” IRC and MAP said on Wednesday.

The Israeli government is either “unwilling or unable” to investigate the incident, both NGOs said.

IRC, like other aid organisations working in the besieged enclave, said it had sent its GPS co-ordinates to “the deconfliction process” – a system that allows for Israel to collect the co-ordinates of aid organisations to ensure it does not accidentally hit them. IRC said the British government had also confirmed on December 22 that the compound was registered as a “sensitive site”.

After the attack, both the IRC and MAP called on Israel and its allies to agree on a process for a full, independent and timebound investigation into the January 18 strike.

“IRC and MAP repeat our urgent call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza to prevent further harm to civilians and to allow our teams to access and assist those in desperate need,” they said.

In January, thousands of civilians fled the coastal town of Al Mawasi, near Khan Younis, to Rafah, further south, after weeks of intense Israeli bombardment and fighting against Hamas militants in the city.

Updated: March 14, 2024, 9:18 AM