Israeli tanks hit evacuation zone west of Rafah

May 29, 2024 6:34 am

[Source: Reuters]

Israel’s military denied striking a tent camp west of the city of Rafah on Tuesday after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in what Israel has designated a civilian evacuation zone.

Earlier, defying an appeal from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israeli tanks advanced to the heart of Rafah for the first time after a night of heavy bombardment, while Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognised a Palestinian state, a move that further deepened Israel’s international isolation.

Two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp stirred global condemnation, Gaza emergency services said four tank shells hit a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal strip that Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move to for safety.

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At least 12 of the dead were women, according to medical officials in the Hamas militant-run Palestinian enclave.

But Israel’s military later said in a statement: “Contrary to the reports from the last few hours, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) did not strike in the Humanitarian Area in Al-Mawasi.”

Tuesday’s incident in Al-Mawasi occurred in an area designated by Israel as an expanded humanitarian zone. Israel had urged Palestinian civilians in Rafah, including around one million displaced by the almost eight-month-old war, to evacuate there when it launched its incursion in early May.

In central Rafah, tanks and armoured vehicles mounted with machineguns were spotted near Al-Awda mosque, a city landmark, witnesses told Reuters. The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the Rafah area, without commenting on reported advances into the city centre.