Dozens killed in Israeli strikes on north and south of Gaza

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The remains of a house damaged in an Israeli strike is seen through the damaged windshield of a car, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Mohammed Salem

CAIRO/RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) — Israeli air strikes killed dozens of Palestinians at both ends of the Gaza Strip overnight, hitting the area around Al Shifa hospital in the north and Rafah on the southern edge where more than a million people have sought shelter.

In the north, where intense fighting has raged for more than a week around Al Shifa, members of the Haseera family told Reuters dozens had been killed in a strike that wiped out a family compound near Gaza’s biggest hospital.

«A new massacre against the families of Abu Suhail Abu Haseera, his children and grandchildren, totalling around 30 people,» family member Abu Ali Abu Haseera said in a text message to Reuters.

Reuters journalists were not able to reach the area around Al Shifa, which Israeli forces stormed on March 18. Israel says it has killed and arrested hundreds of Hamas fighters who were using the hospital as a base. Hamas and medical staff deny fighters were present and say civilians have been rounded up.

In the south, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are sheltering in Rafah against the border fence with Egypt, health authorities said 18 people including eight children were killed in a strike on the Abu Nqaira family home.

Blankets and children’s clothes were strewn amid the rubble on Tuesday morning, where relatives picked through the debris to retrieve belongings. Outside, a pillar of reinforced concrete had crushed a burnt-out car. Family members wept over corpses laid out at a nearby hospital morgue.

Israel says it plans a ground offensive into Rafah, where it believes most Hamas fighters are now sheltering. Its closest ally the United States opposes such an assault, arguing it would cause too much harm to civilians who have sought refuge there.

Also in the south, a siege by tanks around two other hospitals in Khan Younis continued for the third day.

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip after Hamas fighters crossed the border on a rampage on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages according to Israeli tallies.

Health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say at least 32,333 Palestinians have been confirmed killed and 74,694 injured in Israel’s offensive, including 107 Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours. Thousands more people are feared dead and unrecovered among the ruins.

The United Nations says Gaza is on the verge of famine, with the entire population experiencing severe food shortages, half at the highest level of catastrophe, and mass death imminent unless more aid arrives immediately. Israel denies blame for hunger in Gaza and insists it is letting in enough food.

The media office of the Hamas-run Gaza authorities said 18 Palestinians had died in the past day trying to retrieve boxes of aid dropped by air. Twelve had drowned chasing aid that landed in the sea, and six others were trampled to death.

It blamed the United States for resorting to dangerous and inefficient air drops, rather than pressing its ally Israel to allow more aid in by land.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, after the United States abstained from the vote.

Israel criticised Washington’s decision not to deploy its veto over the measure, which Israel said would not change anything on the ground.

Hamas welcomed the Security Council resolution, saying in a statement that it «affirms readiness to engage in immediate prisoner swaps on both sides».

Source

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