Dozens Dead in Gaza Area Where Civilians Sought Refuge

Israel bombs southern Gaza after telling civilians to flee there; Hamas says top commander killed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 17, 2023 10:05 AM CDT
Israel Bombs Gaza Area Where Civilians Told to Seek Refuge
A Palestinian lies wounded after surviving an Israeli bombardment of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Israel bombed areas of southern Gaza, where it had told Palestinians to flee to, ahead of an expected ground invasion, killing dozens of people on Tuesday in attacks it says are targeted at Hamas militants that rule the besieged territory, reports the AP. With no water, fuel, or food being delivered to Gaza since Hamas' brutal attack on Israel last week, mediators struggled to break a deadlock over delivering supplies to increasingly desperate civilians, aid groups, and hospitals. In Gaza, dozens of injured were rushed to hospitals after heavy attacks outside the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis, residents reported. Basem Naim, a senior Hamas official and former health minister, reported 27 people were killed in Rafah and 30 in Khan Younis.

An AP reporter saw around 50 bodies brought to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Family members came to claim the bodies, wrapped in white bedsheets, some soaked in blood. An airstrike in Deir al-Balah reduced a house to rubble, killing nine members of the family living there. Three members of another family that had evacuated from Gaza City were killed in a neighboring home. The dead included one man and 11 women and children. Witnesses said there was no warning before the strike. The Israeli military said it was targeting Hamas hideouts, infrastructure, and command centers. "When we see a target, when we see something moving that is Hamas, we'll take care of it," said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman.

A strike in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza killed a top Hamas commander, Ayman Nofal, the group's military wing said—the most high-profile militant known to have been killed so far in the war. Nofal was in charge of Hamas militant activities in the central Gaza Strip and was associated with the creation of the group's "joint operations" room that coordinated between Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other militants in the territory. The UN human rights office decried "appalling reports" that civilians who were trying to flee to southern Gaza were killed by a military strike. Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani urged Israeli forces to avoid "aerial bombardments, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks" and to "take precautions to avoid—and in any case, to minimize—loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects."

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Israel sealed off Gaza since the attack on Israel on Oct. 7 killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and resulted in some 200 taken captive in Gaza. Hamas militants in Gaza have launched rockets every day since, aiming at cities across Israel. Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed at least 2,778 people and wounded 9,700, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Nearly two-thirds of those killed were children. Another 1,200 people across Gaza are believed to be buried under the rubble, alive or dead. Emergency teams struggled to rescue people while cut off from the internet and mobile networks, running out of fuel, and exposed to unceasing airstrikes. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his country's retaliation against Hamas aims to eradicate the group's rule over Gaza. "We are not fighting just our war. We're fighting the war of all ... civilized peoples," he said. Much more here.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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