At least 42 killed in Israeli strikes on houses in Gaza City, ministry reports

One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip’s eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people

Destroyed buildings in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Photograph: Bashar Taleb/Getty Images

At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.

One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip’s eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta told Reuters. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: “A short while ago, IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City.”

It said more details would be released soon.

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It comes after Israeli forces shelled tent camps for displaced Palestinians north of Rafah on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding another 50 according to Gaza’s ministry for health and emergency workers.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for the Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers about the shelling at two locations in a coastal area that has become filled with tents.

The Gaza ministry for health reported the number of people killed and wounded in the attacks.

The locations of the attacks provided by Civil Defence were just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone.

The Israeli military said they were looking into the strikes at the reported co-ordinates.

The remains of destroyed tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah. Photograph: Rabih Daher/Getty Images

Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of the “humanitarian zone” in Mawasi, a rural area on the Mediterranean coast that has filled with sprawling tent camps in recent months.

Witnesses whose relatives died in one of the bombardments near a Red Cross field hospital said Israeli forces fired a second volley that killed people who came out of their tents.

The attack began with a munition that only made a loud bang and bright flash, said Mona Ashour, who lost her husband after he went to investigate what was happening.

“We were in our tent, and they hit with a ‘sound bomb’ near the Red Cross tents, and then my husband came out at the first sound,” Ms Ashour said, outside Nasser Hospital in nearby Khan Younis.

“And then they hit with the second one, which was a little closer to the entrance of the Red Cross,” she said.

Hasan al-Najjar said 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.”

Friday’s strikes took place less than a month after an Israeli bombing triggered a deadly fire that tore through a camp for displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza, drawing widespread international outrage – including from some of Israel’s closest allies – over the military’s expanding offensive into Rafah.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure and that it tries to minimise civilian deaths. It blames the large number of civilian casualties on militants and says it is because they operate among the population.

Israel is pushing ahead with the military operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians had sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza. Most have now fled Rafah, but the United Nations says no place in Gaza is safe and humanitarian conditions are dire as families shelter in tents and cramped apartments without adequate food, water or medical supplies.

At least 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire elsewhere in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Civil Defence teams recovered the bodies of five people who were killed in an air strike that hit two apartments in Gaza City in the north, and several others were wounded. An earlier air strike hit a municipal garage in the city and killed five people.

A tent camp housing Palestinians displaced by the Israeli offensive in Rafah, Gaza Strip. Photograph: Hatem Ali/AP

Fadel Naeem, the orthopaedic chief at al-Ahli hospital, said bodies of 30 people had been brought there on Friday, calling it “a difficult and brutal day in Gaza City”.

With Israel’s war against Hamas now in its ninth month, international criticism is growing over Israel’s campaign of systematic destruction in Gaza, and the cost in civilian lives. The top United Nations court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza – a charge Israel strongly denies.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s ministry for health, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’s October 7th attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and abducted about 250. – AP