Israeli Airstrike Massacre in Rafah as Dozens are Killed in Attack on Displaced Civilians

May 27, 2024

Dozens of people were killed in Rafah late Sunday after an Israeli airstrike hit an area where displaced civilians were sheltering in tents, sparking a fire that tore across the camp, local officials said.

Images shared on social medias showed the area engulfed in flames as screaming Palestinians fled for safety. Some videos also showed disturbing scenes, including severely burned corpses and a man holding what appeared to be the headless body of a small child.

The airstrike targeted makeshift shelters in the northwest of the city, which were supposed to be safe refuge for internally displaced people. “These shelters were supposed to be safe havens for innocent civilians, yet they became targets of brutal violence,” ActionAid UK, an international relief organization, reported. The organization warned that the death toll could rise, noting, “Children, women, and men are being burned alive under their tents and shelters.”

In response to the attack, Hamas condemned it as an “egregious affront” to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice, which had ordered Israel to immediately halt its offensive in Rafah. Hamas called on all parties, particularly Egypt, to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of the Rafah crossing, a vital entry point for essential supplies into Gaza.

Hamas also urged the international community, the United Nations, and all concerned parties to support the Palestinian people amidst Israel’s continued offensive, which has aimed to force a mass exodus of Palestinians and obliterate their national cause over the past seven months. The ongoing conflict, described as genocidal since October, has resulted in the deaths of around 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, condemned the “horror” in Rafah and called for sanctions against Israel. “The Gaza genocide will not easily end without external pressure: Israel must face sanctions, justice, suspension of agreements, trade, partnership, and investments, as well as participation in international forums,” she stated.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, also condemned the violence, describing it as a “monstrous atrocity.” He called for immediate global action to stop Israel’s actions.

The massacre prompted widespread protests across the West Bank, including in Ramallah and Anabta. The Emirati Hospital in Rafah condemned the attack as a “heinous massacre.”

Protests also erupted across the region, including at the Baqa’a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan and outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul. In Baghdad, enraged protesters stormed a KFC branch, damaging the restaurant in protest of the United States’ ongoing support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

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