Battles rage in Gaza as Israeli strikes on refugee camp kills more than 200 people

Battles rage in Gaza as Israeli strikes on refugee camp kills more than 200 people

Gaza, The Gulf Observer: More foreigners prepared to leave the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday as the Palestinian authorities said at least 200 Palestinians died in Israeli attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, strikes that Israel claimed killed Hamas commanders.

The Gaza health ministry said at least 8,796 Palestinians in the narrow coastal enclave, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since October 7.

At least 320 foreign citizens on an initial list of 500, as well as dozens of severely injured Gazans, crossed into Egypt on Wednesday under a deal between Israel, Egypt and Hamas.

Passport holders from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the United Kingdom and the United States were evacuated.

Gaza officials said the Rafah border crossing would reopen on Thursday so more foreigners could exit. A diplomatic source said some 7,500 foreign passport holders would leave Gaza over about two weeks.

Explosions were heard in the early hours of Thursday around the al-Quds hospital in densely populated Gaza City, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. Israeli authorities had previously warned the hospital to evacuate immediately, which UN officials said was impossible without endangering patients.

Gaza’s media office said on Thursday that at least 195 Palestinians were killed in the two Israeli attacks on Jabalia, with 120 missing. At least 777 people were wounded, it said in a statement.

Palestinians on Wednesday sifted through rubble in a desperate hunt for trapped victims. “It is a massacre,” said one witness.

UN human rights officials said strikes on the camp could be a war crime.

“Given the high number of civilian casualties and the scale of destruction following Israeli air strikes on Jabalia refugee camp, we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote on social media site X.

The Israeli military announced the death of another soldier in Gaza fighting, bringing to 17 the number killed since ground operations were expanded on Friday.

Amid growing international calls for a humanitarian pause in hostilities, conditions in the seaside enclave are increasingly desperate under Israel’s brutal and relentless assault and tightened blockade. Food, fuel, drinking water and medicine have run short.

Dr Fathi Abu al-Hassan, a US passport holder waiting to cross into Egypt on Wednesday, described hellish conditions in Gaza with no water, food or shelter.

“We open our eyes on dead people and we close our eyes on dead people,” he said.

Hospitals, including Gaza’s only cancer hospital, have struggled as shortages of fuel forced them to shut down. Israel has refused to let humanitarian convoys bring in fuel, claiming that Hamas fighters would divert it for military use.

Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry, said the main power generator at the Indonesian Hospital was no longer functioning due to lack of fuel.