At least 27 Palestinians killed by Israeli strike on refugee camp in central Gaza

The injured have been taken to Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah

A wounded boy arrives at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al Balah on Tuesday, after an Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. AFP
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At least 27 Palestinians were killed and several injured on Tuesday night in an Israeli strike on the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Those killed were mostly displaced people, Palestinian news agency Wafa said.

The injured were taken to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al Balah, a town in central Gaza about 14km south of Gaza city.

Medics said rescue operations were under way as some victims were believed to be trapped under the rubble of a three-storey building that was struck.

There were also reports of aerial bombings on the eastern and northern parts of the enclave.

Al Shifa toll rises

The deadly strikes come days after the Israeli army raided Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical centre.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military gave an updated death toll of at least 90 people, who it says were militants. Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other medical centres as bases, which Hamas denies.

The army said its investigators had interrogated 300 people at the hospital and transferred about 160 of them to Israel for questioning.

On Tuesday, a medical student at the hospital said only medical staff, the wounded and women were allowed to stay in the centre.

Male relatives of patients and displaced men staying at the hospital were forced to leave, Palestinian medical student Ezz Eddin Lulu said in a post on Instagram.

Some were stripped and told to go south while others are being held behind Israeli tanks, he added.

At least 31,923 Palestinians have been killed since the war began in October, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, with women and children making up two thirds of the dead.

Blinken and Cameron push for truce

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the Middle East on Wednesday for his sixth visit since the start of Israel's war in Gaza.

He is seeking to push for a deal to secure a temporary pause in fighting and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Mr Blinken will meet Saudi leaders in Jeddah and Egyptian leaders in Cairo to discuss talks brokered by Egypt and Qatar on an agreement, as well as efforts to get more aid into Gaza, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Mr Blinken said he would pursue conversations on arrangements for governance, security and the redevelopment of post-conflict Gaza.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Wednesday that it was vital for a pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to enable the release of hostages in Gaza, but added that lot of conditions first need to be met for a lasting ceasefire, Reuters reported.

Mr Cameron described attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas last year and its holding of hostages as inhumane, and said the only way for Palestinians to have a future was with the militant group out of the picture.

“Crucially, what we must try to do is to turn that pause into a permanent sustainable ceasefire,” Mr Cameron said during a visit to a Thai air force base.

Gaza ceasefire crucial but 'a whole lot of conditions' to be met, says Cameron

Gaza ceasefire crucial but 'a whole lot of conditions' to be met, says Cameron

'Imminent famine'

Meanwhile, a UN food agency warned that “famine is imminent” in northern Gaza.

Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation, said on Tuesday that an increasing number of children in Gaza are on the “brink of death” from acute hunger.

“What doctors and medical staff are telling us is, more and more, they are seeing the effects of starvation; they’re seeing newborn babies simply dying because they [have] too low [a] birth weight,” Ms Harris said.

There is a rising number of dangerously underweight pregnant women while young children and infants are among the least able to cope with chronic hunger, according to the WHO.

“This is entirely man-made, everything we're seeing medically; this was a territory where the health system functioned well,” Ms Harris said.

The WHO warning came at a time when Israel's restrictions on humanitarian aid for Gaza were described as possibly amounting to a starvation tactic that could constitute a war crime, the UN's human rights chief said late on Tuesday.

The stark appraisal followed a UN-backed report on Monday that said famine could grip the enclave by May without an end to the war.

Doctors warn UN of 'apocalyptic' consequences if Rafah is invaded

Doctors warn UN of 'apocalyptic' consequences if Rafah is invaded

While aid agencies blame Israel for the blockade on Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government said it was supporting the flow of aid and blamed the UN and relief groups for any issues over the quantity and pace of delivery.

“Israel, as the occupying power, has the obligation to ensure the provision of food and medical care to the population commensurate with their needs, and to facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations to deliver that assistance,” UN high commissioner for human rights Volker Turk said.

On Tuesday, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden defended Israel's right to protect itself amid growing tension between the Middle Eastern country and its biggest backers, but called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Dowden said the British government was “continuously” urging Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and had also raised concerns about getting aid into Gaza, where a humanitarian crisis is raging after six months of fighting.

Updated: March 20, 2024, 11:59 AM