Saudi Arabia condemns 'genocidal massacres' as more civilians killed in Rafah strikes

A field hospital in Al Mawasi, a designated safe zone, has been forced to evacuate due to shelling

A Palestinian mother holds her sleeping child after fleeing Rafah due to an Israeli military operation. Reuters
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Saudi Arabia has condemned the “genocidal massacres” carried out by Israel in its assault on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, including the repeated targeting of camps for displaced civilians.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry denounced “in the strongest terms” Israel's move to continue “to target the tents of defenceless Palestinian refugees in Rafah”.

“The kingdom holds the Israeli authorities fully responsible for what is happening in Rafah and all across the occupied Palestinian territories,” the ministry said.

At least 75 people, including children, were killed in strikes over the past 24 hours across the Gaza Strip, the Gazan Ministry of Health said.

Speaking to The National, Gaza's civil defence chief Mohammed Al Mughier said the southern part of the enclave, including Rafah, had come under Israeli artillery fire and air and drone strikes again.

Israeli forces have also broadened areas of combat to include Tal Al Sultan's western camp area, the southern and eastern parts of Rafah, including Al Shabura district, and the border region of Yibna, near the Egyptian border, Mr Al Mughier said.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Israeli air strikes hit Rafah, Gaza city and the Nuseirat and Jabalia refugee camps in northern Gaza.

The overall death toll since October 7, when Hamas-led attacks killed 1,200 in southern Israel, has reached 36,171, Gaza's Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. More than 81,400 people have been injured.

Attention has been focused on Rafah since Israel launched its controversial offensive against the southern city in early May.

Israel's allies, including the US, had warned it against attacking the city, where more than 1.5 million people had taken shelter. About a million of those have since fled to neighbouring areas.

However, the Israeli military has also carried out strikes against camps bordering Rafah, including designated “safe zones”.

On Wednesday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said it had evacuated Al Quds field hospital in Al Mawasi after a bombardment continued in its vicinity, forcibly displacing residents in the area, it said.

Al Mawasi was previously designated as a safe zone by Israeli forces.

Witnesses said Israeli forces had penetrated the city.

“People are currently inside their homes because anyone who moves is being shot at by Israeli drones,” resident Abdel Khatib told AFP.

English follows: اخلت طواقم الهلال الأحمر الفلسطيني بالأمس مستشفى القدس الميداني التايع للجمعية من منطقة مواصي رفح غربي...

Posted by ‎Palestine Red Crescent society الهلال الاحمر الفلسطيني‎ on Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Israeli forces have denied striking Al Mawasi.

With a dwindling number of hospitals still working, in dire need of urgent medical supplies, others such as the Kuwaiti Specialised Hospital have had to shut down their operations amid Israeli shelling within their vicinity and the killings of medical workers.

“The Israeli occupation is deliberately eliminating the healthcare presence in Rafah and the north,” Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Al Qudra said on Wednesday.

“There is no healthcare capacity to deal with the ongoing massacres in Rafah and the northern sector,” he said, as he demanded the creation of safe corridors to allow the immediate entry of fuel and medical aid.

The surge in air raids came hours after the White House said Israel's actions in Rafah had not crossed US President Joe Biden's “red lines”.

Since Sunday, Israel has repeatedly struck displacement camps in Rafah, killing dozens of civilians, including women and children. The first attack caused a fire that killed at least 45 Palestinians and badly wounded others.

Israel called the Rafah air strike a “tragic mistake”.

Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said that the air force had dropped aerial bombs weighing 17kg during Sunday's attack.

However, defence expert Amos Harel, a reporter at Israeli outlet Haaretz, said the figure was misleading as it only took into account the weight of the explosive material and not the bomb itself, which weighs 110kg.

Meanwhile, US Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that “as a result of this strike on Sunday I have no policy changes to speak to”.

“It just happened. The Israelis are going to investigate it,” he said.

The Pentagon, however, used stronger language to describe Sunday's attack.

“No matter what anyone says, those images, what’s happening on the ground, it’s horrific, it’s heartbreaking and needs to stop,” it said.

“It’s absolutely devastating to see the loss of life.”

Algeria said on Tuesday that it was proposing a UN Security Council draft resolution to “stop the killing in Rafah”.

The Security Council is set to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Gaza.

Updated: May 29, 2024, 3:08 PM