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“People burned”: a night in hell at Rafah camp

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse Palestinians gathered at the site of an Israeli strike on a displaced persons camp in Rafah on May 27, 2024.

France Media Agency to Rafah

Published yesterday at 1:57 p.m. Updated at 12:09 a.m.

  • Middle East

“People were neither injured nor killed: they burned,” lamented Mohammad Hamad, the day after the deadly Israeli strike on a camp for displaced people in the Palestinian town of Rafah.

Amidst the rubble, children pick up packets of chips saved from the flames while men clear out what remains of charred tents or makeshift shelters.

The Israeli operation, which lasted several hours overnight from Sunday to Monday, resulted in the death of at least 45 people according to local authorities in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian movement Hamas is in power.< /p>

“My cousin’s daughter, a child no older than 13, was one of the “martyrs.” His features were unrecognizable because the shrapnel tore his face off,” said Mohammad Hamad, 24.

The Israeli army said that one of its military planes “struck a Hamas compound in Rafah” on Sunday evening, killing two leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement.

The strike caused a fire that ravaged the camp in the Tal al-Sultan area of ​​Rafah governorate, reducing to ashes the tents and shelters of residents of the Gaza Strip displaced by more than seven months of fighting between the Israeli army and the armed movements of this Palestinian territory.

In the morning, only pieces of blackened sheet metal and charred planks remained from the improvised camp.< /p>

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“When we heard the sound [of the explosion], the sky suddenly lit up,” Mouhannad, a displaced Palestinian who witnessed the scene, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“We saw charred and dismembered bodies following the use of […] missiles which caused a massive fire,” Mohammad al-Mughayyir, director of Gaza Civil Defense, told AFP on Monday.

M. Mughayyir, who oversaw rescue efforts after the fire broke out, said fuel shortages and lack of water made fighting the blaze particularly difficult.

“There were dismembered people, children, women and elderly people among the dead,” he said.

Shocked Palestinians who who sought refuge in this part of the city after receiving orders from the Israeli army to evacuate other areas confided their incomprehension to AFP.

“They dropped leaflets asking us to go to the humanitarian zone of Tal al-Sultan, so we complied and came here,” Abou Mohammad, a man who left his home in the northern Gaza Strip, a few weeks after the start of the war triggered on October 7 by an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli territory.

“And despite this , yesterday, while I was having dinner, at sunset, I suddenly felt like an earthquake. »

“Safe zone”

Mohammad Abou Qamar, 27, has was also surprised by the strikes, having also left the north to settle in the camp described as a “safe zone” by the Israeli authorities.

“Last night, to our great surprise, the camp was bombed,” even though the place was considered “allegedly safe,” he told AFP. “A fire broke out, and children, women and elderly people were burned. »

At the Tal al-Sultan clinic, the floor of one room is covered with shrouds made from pieces of white sheets. The remains were then taken in vans to be buried.

In the middle of the macabre procession, a man mourns his sister, Yasmine Miqdad, killed in the strike.

“She was seven months pregnant, her room was bombed,” Ahmed Miqdad told AFP. “She was getting ready to welcome her baby. »

“What did this innocent child do to deserve this?” he asks.

On Monday, the Israeli army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strike on the camp was under investigation. Mr. Netanyahu called it “a tragic accident.”

The war was sparked by the Hamas attack on October 7 which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.

Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a devastating offensive in the Gaza Strip in retaliation, resulting in the deaths of more than 36,000 people, most of them civilians, according to data from the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116