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War on Gaza: Israeli bombing kills 40 in Nuseirat as Jabalia and Rafah fighting rages

Israeli ground offensive in Rafah forces half a million into a new wave of displacement
Boys watch smoke billowing during Israeli strikes east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 13 May 2024 (AFP)
Boys watch smoke billowing during Israeli strikes east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 13 May 2024 (AFP)

An Israeli air attack on Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza has reportedly killed at least 40 people, as increasing ground assaults from south to north were met with fierce Hamas resistance.

Children were among those killed and wounded after Israeli fighter jets bombed a three-storey house belonging to the Karaja family in Nuseirat camp on Monday night, according to Wafa news agency.

Al Jazeera reported that the building - which was completely flattened - was sheltering 100 displaced Palestinians. Among them were people newly displaced from Rafah in southern Gaza, where Israel has been threatening a major ground invasion.

Dozens of those killed and wounded in Nuseirat camp were trapped for several hours under the rubble of the destroyed building. 

Al Jazeera said 40 people were killed in the attack on the Nuseirat building and a nearby school.  

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Civil defence teams in Gaza said they were unable to reach the victims initially due to fuel shortages and a lack of equipment. Rescuers continued to rummage through the rubble on Tuesday, with the death toll expected to rise. 

Nuseirat camp is home to 85,409 Palestinian refugees officially registered by the United Nations, as of 2023. The actual number of people in the camp is likely to be considerably higher.

The camp was established in 1948 following the Nakba - or catastrophe - when over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes to make way for the nascent state of Israel. 

Intense fighting

Another refugee camp in Gaza, Jabalia, in the north, was also heavily bombed by Israeli forces on Tuesday. 

Medical sources told Wafa that several civilians were killed and wounded after Israeli shelling targeted the Tal al-Zaatar area of the camp, as well as a square which houses several UN-run schools. 

Israel's military said on Tuesday that it had "expanded activity" in Jabalia camp, where there has been intense fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters. 

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According to Al Jazeera, Israeli tanks, bulldozers and armoured vehicles surrounded at least three Unrwa facilities in the camp being used as evacuation centres for displaced Palestinian families in northern Gaza. Those trapped in the centres reportedly sent out SOS calls to civil defence teams. 

Meanwhile, Hamas said its fighters were engaged in heavy fighting with Israeli troops in both Jabalia and Rafah. 

In a series of updates, it said fighters killed seven soldiers in close-quarters combat and hit 12 Israeli military armoured vehicles, including tanks, with bombs and missiles.

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the statements.

The Israeli military said 14 soldiers were wounded across Gaza on Tuesday, including three who sustained serious injuries in a gun battle in northen Gaza. 

Media reports said Israeli rescue helicopters were spotted transporting soldiers from Gaza to Israeli hospitals amid the fighting. 

Half a million flee Rafah

Elsewhere on Tuesday, at least three people were killed and nine wounded after Israeli artillery targeted the Zaytoun neighbourhood in central Gaza. 

In Rafah, Israeli tanks pushed deeper into eastern areas, entering the neighbourhoods of al-Jneina, al-Salam and al-Brazil, residents told Reuters.

"The tanks advanced this morning west of Salahuddin road into the Brazil and Jneina neighbourhoods," one resident said. "They are in the streets inside the built-up area and there are clashes."

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Unrwa, the UN's Palestinian refugee agency, estimates that nearly 450,000 people have fled Rafah since Israeli forces started their wider operations in the area on 6 May.

"People face constant exhaustion, hunger and fear," the agency said on X. "Nowhere is safe. An immediate ceasefire is the only hope."

It comes as the International Court of Justice is set to hold hearings on Thursday and Friday to discuss new emergency measures sought by South Africa over Israel's attacks on Rafah. 

Qatar, which is negotiating between Israel and Hamas, indicated on Tuesday that ceasefire talks had reached a deadlock. 

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said that Israel's operation in Rafah sent things backwards, but that talks were still ongoing. 

The death toll of Palestinians killed in Gaza in Israeli attacks since 7 October rose to 35,173 on Tuesday. Additionally, 79,061 others have been wounded during that time. 

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