At least 31 killed in Israeli strike on Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp

Heavy strikes and shelling also reported near Beit Lahia hospital and on Rafah

An UN employee checks a burnt area at a school housing displaced Palestinians in Nuseirat refugee camp. AFP
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At least 31 people were killed and another 20 injured in an overnight Israeli strike on Gaza's central Nuseirat refugee camp, authorities said on Sunday.

The strike, which occurred at around 3am local time, levelled a three-storey building in the camp, and civil defence teams are combing through the rubble for survivors, civil defence spokesman Mahmoud Bassal told reporters.

The death toll rose throughout the day, with at least 20 people initially reported dead in the strike.

Air strikes also hit the vicinity of Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, where warplanes struck various areas of the city on Sunday. The hospital will soon be forced out of service amid continuing Israeli attacks, Gaza's civil defence said in a statement.

Israeli strikes on the densely populated Nuseirat camp have killed dozens of people at a time.

In March, at least 27 Palestinians were killed in a single strike on a three-storey building in the camp, only days after 30 were killed in a strike on a home sheltering displaced people.

More than 100 people were killed in a strike on the camp's Engineer's Building in October, in what Human Rights Watch called a possible war crime.

Overnight strikes and shelling were reported elsewhere across the enclave, including on the southern city of Rafah, the official Wafa news agency reported on Sunday morning.

At least 35,386 Palestinians have been killed and 79,366 wounded across Gaza since the war began in October, according to figures from the enclave's Health Ministry.

Thousands more are missing under the rubble of flattened buildings across the strip, where basic infrastructure has been decimated.

About 300 homes have been destroyed across Jabilia since Israeli forces began an operation in the camp earlier this month, civil defence said on Sunday, adding that dozens of people are still missing, presumed to be under the rubble.

Israeli tanks entered the camp in mid-May as hundreds of leaflets were dropped from the sky, with "we are coming" written in Arabic.

Also on Sunday, three people were killed in Gaza city and several wounded in a strike on a school sheltering displaced people, Wafa reported. Three others were killed and seven wounded in a separate strike on the Al Tuffah district.

Rafah also came under attack from all directions, with strikes and shelling reported in eastern and central areas of the city, while warships fired at its coastline.

About 800,000 people have fled the southern city, on the border with Egypt, since Israel issued evacuation orders last week.

Israel’s attack on the city, which was the last refuge for more than a million people forced to flee their homes earlier in the war, is part of an “endgame” in which Gaza is “utterly destroyed”, the UN’s highest court was told on Thursday as a genocide case continues in The Hague.

Civilians have fled to other areas of central and southern Gaza, where fierce fighting is under way, as well as the narrow coastal strip of Al Mawasi, which has been struck several times despite is designation as a "safe zone" by the Israeli army.

Some people have tried to seek shelter in destroyed buildings in Khan Younis, Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN's Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees, said on Saturday.

Palestinians forced to flee Rafah to Al Mawasi have told The National of dire living conditions, including polluted water and no proper shelter.

Gaza's few remaining hospitals have warned they will go out of service unless they receive urgently needed fuel as Israel maintains its blockade of the strip.

Israel's closure of the Rafah border crossing has cut off Gazans from food, fuel and aid, while also preventing injured and sick Gazans in dire need of medical assistance from receiving treatment abroad.

An American doctor, who is working in southern Gaza, said he was staying in the enclave, despite many of his colleagues leaving this week.

Dr Adam Hamawi, a plastic surgeon who came to Gaza with the Palestinian American Medical Association, has been caring for patients at the European Hospital in Khan Younis.

Pama said that five of its 19 medical mission team members were evacuated from Gaza on Friday.

“We share the guilt feeling of these five members for leaving 14 team members, patients, and Gaza at large behind,” a statement from the organisation said.

“We have tried to provide the best care for people as we can, we have come here with our own supplies to help the hospital here,” said Dr Hamawi.

He said it is now difficult to leave due to the closure of the Rafah border crossing between Israel and Egypt.

“The problem is that if we succeed to leave Gaza, it will be difficult for any crew to come to Gaza to help people here,” he said.

“We are waiting to receive any news about anyone coming to Gaza.”

Updated: May 19, 2024, 11:02 AM