Israeli attack on Rafah tent camp kills 45

via X

An Israeli airstrike triggered a massive blaze killing 45 people in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court ruling to halt Israel's assault.

In scenes grimly familiar from a war in its eighth month, Palestinian families rushed to hospitals to prepare their dead for burial after the strike late on Sunday night set tents and rickety shelters ablaze.

Women wept and men held prayers beside bodies in shrouds.

"The whole world is witnessing Rafah getting burnt up by Israel and no one is doing anything to stop it," Bassam, a Rafah resident, said via a chat app, of the strike in an area of western Rafah that had been designated a safe zone.

Israeli tanks continued to bombard eastern and central areas of the city in southern Gaza on Monday, killing eight, local health officials said.

Israel's military said that Sunday's air attack, based on "precise intelligence", had eliminated Hamas' chief of staff for the second and larger Palestinian territory, the West Bank, plus another official behind attacks on Israelis.

Earlier on Sunday, it had said eight rockets were intercepted after being fired from the Rafah area. A minister said that showed the need for continued operations against Hamas.

Israel's top military prosecutor, however, called the air strike "very grave" and said an investigation was under way.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) regrets any harm to non-combatants during the war," Major-General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi said at a conference on Monday.

The attack took place in the Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood, where thousands were sheltering after Israeli forces began a ground offensive in the east of Rafah over two weeks ago.

More than half of the dead were women, children, and elderly people, health officials in Hamas-run Gaza said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise as more people caught in the blaze were in critical condition with severe burns.

Israel has kept up attacks on Rafah despite a ruling by the top UN court on Friday ordering it to stop, arguing that the court's ruling grants it some scope for military action there.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "outraged" over Israel's latest attacks. "These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians," he said on X.

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the International Court of Justice ruling must be respected. "International humanitarian law applies for all, also for Israel's conduct of the war," Baerbock said.

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