Israeli strikes kill 45 Palestinians and damage Red Cross office in Gaza

At least 45 Palestinians were killed and a Red Cross office was damaged in Gaza as Israeli forces pounded the besieged territory and engaged in close-quarter combat with Hamas, Reuters reported.

The Red Cross said that its Gaza office was damaged when “heavy calibre projectiles” fired by the Israeli military landed in Mawasi near Rafah on Friday afternoon, killing at least 25 people living in tents around the compound and wounding 50.

The Israeli shelling struck two places in the area which is filled with tents housing Palestinians driven from their homes elsewhere in Gaza by unrelenting bombardment. One of these locations is near a field hospital run by the Red Cross.

Relatives of the people killed near the hospital told the Associated Press that the Israelis drew people out by firing a “sound bomb” and then struck them with a deadly volley.

Mona Ashour’s husband rushed out to investigate and was instantly killed. “Then they hit with the second one which was a little closer to the entrance of the Red Cross,” she said.

Another eyewitness, Hasan al-Najjar, told the news agency that his sons were killed helping people who panicked after the first strike.

“My two sons went after they heard the women and children screaming,” he said at the hospital. “They went to save the women and they struck with the second projectile, and my sons were martyred. They struck the place twice.”

A man walks past destroyed tents the day after an Israeli strike in Mawasi near Rafah, Gaza (AFP via Getty)
A man walks past destroyed tents the day after an Israeli strike in Mawasi near Rafah, Gaza (AFP via Getty)

The locations of the attacks provided by the Red Cross appear to be just outside a “safe zone” designated by the Israelis in Muwasi.

"This grave security incident is one of several in recent days. Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures," the humanitarian organisation said in a post on X on Friday without mentioning Israel. "We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”

The Red Cross field hospital, which has 60 beds, was opened in mid-May to provide emergency surgeries, obstetric, paediatric and outpatient care, according to a press release at the time that shows white tents covering a vast area.

Two Israeli tanks climbed a hilltop above Mawasi and sent down "balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area", a resident told Reuters.

Israeli forces have bombed locations in the vicinity of the “humanitarian zone” in Muwasi before as well.

They have been pushing to complete the capture of Rafah despite repeated condemnation by Israel’s Western allies and the UN.

The Israeli military said the incident was under review. "An initial inquiry conducted suggests that there’s no indication that a strike was carried out by the IDF in the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi," it said.

The military earlier claimed its forces were conducting "precise, intelligence-based" actions in the Rafah area, where troops were involved in close-quarter combat with Hamas.

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in an Israeli strike in Mawasi (Anadolu via Getty)
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in an Israeli strike in Mawasi (Anadolu via Getty)

Israeli airstrikes, meanwhile, killed three Palestinians in Khan Younis and at least seven in Beach Camp on Friday. Five Palestinians were also killed in an attack on Gaza City.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed more than 37,400 people so far, according to the local health ministry, and left nearly the entire population of 2.3 million homeless and destitute.

The UN said on Friday it is Israel’s responsibility, as the occupying power in Gaza, to restore public order and safety so humanitarian aid can be delivered, amid warnings of imminent famine.

Israel launched a ground and air assault on Gaza after Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October last year and killed around 1,200 soldiers and civilians and took nearly 250 hostage.