Palestinian medics killed as Israeli air strikes hit Gaza

Palestine Red Crescent says two paramedics were killed in Israeli strike on ambulance in Rafah

Israeli soldiers in southern Gaza. Rafah residents have reported intense artillery shelling and gunfire. AFP
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Israeli strikes killed at least nine Palestinians across Gaza and injured several more on Thursday, the Wafa news agency reported.

Israeli aircraft struck a house at Nuseirat Camp in central Gaza, killing four and injuring 15. Three others were shot dead by Israeli snipers in the Tel Al Hawa neighbourhood, near Gaza city.

In Rafah, Israeli forces bombed buildings and artillery shelling hit an area west of the city.

The Palestine Red Crescent said two of its paramedics were killed in an Israeli air strike on an ambulance in the Tal Al Sultan area of Rafah. The two medics were identified as Haitham Tubasi and Suhail Hassouna.

Gaza's Ministry of Health condemned the attacks on the ambulance.

“This ensures that Israel is intentionally wiping out the medical system in Gaza,” the ministry said on Thursday. Israel said it carried out 50 air strikes across the enclave on Thursday, which it claimed had killed two militants.

Fighting was also being reported in Jabalia refugee camp, a severely damaged town in northern Gaza that has been pummelled by the biggest bombs in Israel's inventory, weighing 900kg. Israel's military claimed to have cleared Hamas out of northern Gaza after the first stage of its offensive, but soldiers returned and fought street battles with Palestinian militants in the streets of Jabalia this month.

While Israel's leadership has said it is fighting the war to eliminate Hamas after the group led attacks on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people on October 7, Gaza's civilians have paid a heavy price.

More than 36,200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since then, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said 75 per cent of those killed were women, children and the elderly. At least 15,328 children are thought to have lost their lives. About 10,000 people are feared buried under rubble, "including more than 5,000 children", the ministry said.

Israel seizes border

On Wednesday, Israel said it took over the 14km Philadelphi Corridor, on the border between Gaza and Egypt, an area that Israel said was being used to smuggle weapons and artillery.

Egypt has rejected claims of weapons smuggling through tunnels beneath the border and said a takeover of the corridor would breach the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has called for an end to Israel's siege on Gaza and said the international community must ensure Palestinians were not displaced from the enclave.

“I call on the international community to immediately provide for long-term humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip and to end the Israeli siege, and to stop any attempt at forcing Palestinians to forcibly flee their land,” Mr El Sisi said at a forum in Beijing.

His comments came after the Israeli army said on Wednesday that it gained “operational control” over the Philadelphi Corridor. Israeli troops patrolled the area until 2005, when they were withdrawn as part of a broader disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Its seizure comes weeks after Israeli forces took control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on May 7.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, after Hamas seized control following its conflict with Fatah for control of the Palestinian territories.

Before the outbreak of the war, the blockade was jointly administered by Israel and Egypt, both of which controlled the entry of food, fuel and other essential goods into the enclave.

Since October 7, Israel has limited the amount of aid allowed into Gaza while devastating vast swathes through bombardment and ground fighting.

Israel seized the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as it launched its offensive on the city this month, giving it full control of all the entry points into Gaza.

Humanitarian groups and the UN have repeatedly accused Israel of placing Gaza under siege and deliberating preventing aid from reaching Palestinians, which Israel denies.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the GCC, Mamadou Sow, said International Humanitarian Law (IHL) declares that a siege should be directed only against enemy forces.

"IHL prohibits attacking, destroying, removing, rendering useless objects indispensable to survival of civilians," he said.

"Even if used in direct support of enemy military action, operations against them are prohibited if they leave civilians so short of food and water as to cause starvation."

The UN said this month there is a "full-blown famine" in northern Gaza.

On Sunday, 70 human rights organisations sounded the alarm on high levels of malnutrition and the spread of famine, particularly among children, which doctors have said is a contributing factor to exacerbating otherwise preventable complications due to injury.

In a joint statement, the organisations accused Israel of intentionally starving Gazans as thousands of aid lorries are lined up outside Gaza on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border, unable to pass through.

Updated: May 30, 2024, 1:34 PM