‘Dozens killed’ in Gaza attacks as hospitals blockaded

Bombings in Rafah have killed 30 people and injured more, Palestinian medics say.

Bombings in Rafah have killed 30 people and injured more, Palestinian medics say. Photo: AP

Israel’s military has killed dozens of people in new attacks in Gaza, Palestinian medics say, and its forces have maintained a blockade of two hospitals where they say Hamas militants are hiding.

As Israel pressed on with its offensive, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was a growing international consensus around telling Israel a ceasefire was needed and that an assault on Rafah would cause a humanitarian disaster.

Rafah, the last refuge for over a million Palestinians on the Gaza Strip’s southern border with Egypt, was among cities that came under fire in the latest attacks.

Palestinian medics said 30 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours in Rafah, whose population has been swollen by displaced Palestinians escaping fighting elsewhere in Gaza after more than five months of war.

“Every bombing that takes place in Rafah, we fear the tanks will come in. The past 24 hours were one of the worst days since we moved into Rafah,” said Abu Khaled, a father of seven, who declined to give his full name for fear of reprisals.

Dozens of Palestinians took part in rallies and attended funerals early on Monday after an Israeli airstrike killed 18 Palestinians in one house in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, the Palestinians medics and witnesses said.

Israeli forces were also besieging Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, Palestinian witnesses said, a week after entering Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the main hospital in the strip.

Israel says hospitals in Gaza are used by the Palestinian militant group Hamas as bases, and has released videos and pictures supporting the assertion. Hamas and medical staff deny this, and did not say whether any fighters were among those killed in the latest attacks.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday its forces were “continuing to conduct precise operational activity in the Shifa Hospital area while preventing harm to civilians, patients, medical teams, and medical equipment”.

It said its forces had detained 500 people affiliated with Hamas and the allied Islamic Jihad and had located weapons in the area. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said hundreds of patients and medical staff had been detained at Al Shifa.

Israel’s military also said its forces continued “precisely targeted raids on terror infrastructure in Al-Amal” and that “20 terrorists were eliminated in the Al Amal area over the past day in close-quarters combat and aerial strikes”.

Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and 74,500 injured in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, Palestinians health officials say.

Israel began its military campaign after Hamas-led Islamist militants attacked its south on October 7, killing 1200 people and abducting 253, according to Israeli tallies.

US-backed mediation by Qatar and Egypt has so far failed to secure agreement between Israel and Hamas on a ceasefire, a hostage-prisoner swap and the unfettered provision of aid to Gaza civilians, with each side sticking to core demands.

“We see a growing consensus emerging in the international community to tell the Israelis that the ceasefire is needed,” UN chief Guterres said on a visit to Jordan.

He told a press conference that he also saw “a growing consensus, I heard in the US, I heard from the European Union, not to mention of course the Muslim world, to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster”.

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