Israeli Tanks Entered 3 Neighborhoods in East Rafah: Refugee Camp Attacked, 13 Dead

Israeli tanks entered this morning in the eastern part of the city of Rafah, in the neighborhoods of Al-Jneina, Al-Salam and Al-Brazil, said the residents there

by Sededin Dedovic
Israeli Tanks Entered 3 Neighborhoods in East Rafah: Refugee Camp Attacked, 13 Dead
© Maja Hitij / Getty Images

The United States (US) has assessed that Israel has deployed troops near Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, in numbers "sufficient to launch a full offensive," but senior US officials are unsure if a decision has been made about it, two officials of the US administration told CNN.

The White House believes that an Israeli ground offensive on Rafah would be a major mistake and is urgently working to establish a ceasefire, said US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday. The CNN report states that the Biden administration is not certain whether Israel has made a decision to attack Rafah, following a warning from the US president last week that such a move would prompt the US to halt additional arms shipments.

Israel has ordered the evacuation of residents from some parts of the city, which the Israeli military designates as the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza. It is estimated that more than 350,000 people have left Rafah, but hundreds of thousands remain in the city.

At least 13 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza last night, with several people remaining trapped in the rubble, said the spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Hospital.

The four-story building belonging to the Karadja family was hit. At least 100 displaced persons took shelter there during the war, Gaza Civil Defense announced today. The building was hit around 2:00 a.m. local time while residents were sleeping, according to CNN.

The death toll is expected to rise. Four witnesses said at least six family members were trapped in the rubble. Videos posted on social media show people, including children, buried under thick blocks of cement while rescue teams try to extricate them.

The building was destroyed in the strike. Israeli forces have repeatedly targeted the Nuseirat camp in recent months, north of Deir al-Balah, and this morning Israeli tanks entered the eastern part of Rafah, into the neighborhoods of Al-Djneina, Al-Salam, and Al-Brazil, according to local residents.

"Tanks advanced this morning west of Salahudin Street into the Brazil and Djneina neighborhoods. They are on the streets, in residential areas, there is conflict," one resident told Reuters. The latest attack caused a fire in a nearby school run by the UN, and footage shows it engulfed in flames.

One person died in the warehouse fire.

Smoke rise over the southern part of the Gaza Strip after an Israeli bombardment, as seen from the Israeli side from the border © Maja Hitij / Getty Images

Israeli forces have targeted humanitarian workers and their convoys at least eight times, killing at least 15 people, including children, since the beginning of the Gaza war, according to today's report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The New York-based human rights organization stated that in each case, humanitarian groups provided their coordinates to Israeli authorities to ensure their safety. There were no prior warnings of the attacks, which also injured at least 16 people.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that more than 250 humanitarian workers have been killed since the beginning of the war, mostly Palestinians employed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the main supplier for the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army stated today that it is investigating the death of a member of the UN security team on Monday in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. The shooting at the convoy of vehicles in which he was killed occurred in an active military zone, and the army was not informed of the vehicle's route.

The UN stated that one foreigner working for the UN was killed and another was injured on Monday in a clearly marked vehicle that was fired upon. However, it was not disclosed who was responsible, nor were the victims' nationalities revealed.

Human Rights Watch assessed that eight documented incidents show fundamental flaws in the so-called conflict avoidance system aimed at protecting humanitarian workers and enabling them to safely deliver aid in Gaza to save lives.

"Israeli allies should acknowledge that these attacks on humanitarian workers happen repeatedly and must stop," said Belkis Wille, associate director of HRW's Crisis and Conflict Division. Israel was sharply criticized in April following a series of strikes that killed seven humanitarian workers from the charitable organization World Central Kitchen.

The country admitted that its forces had erred in that case and later dismissed two officers and punished three for reacting incorrectly to information and violating service rules. Humanitarian organizations say their ability to deliver aid to 2.3 million people in Gaza is undermined by Israeli restrictions, ongoing conflicts, and difficulties coordinating movements with the Israeli military. The UN warns that hunger is widespread in Gaza, with absolute famine prevailing in the north of the territory.