Israeli tank shells hit tent camp, killing at least 25, say Gaza health officials

21 June 2024, 23:14 | Updated: 22 June 2024, 08:13

At least 25 Palestinians have been killed and 50 injured after Israeli tanks fired on tents sheltering displaced families, according to health officials and emergency workers in Gaza.

Witnesses said the latest attack in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas took place in Mawasi, a rural area on the Mediterranean coast that has become filled with makeshift tents.

One resident told Reuters: "Two tanks climbed a hilltop overseeing Mawasi and they sent balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area."

Witnesses whose relatives died in the attack near a Red Cross field hospital told The Associated Press that Israeli forces fired a second volley that killed people when they came out of their tents.

The Israeli military said it was still looking into the attack at the reported coordinates but added "there is no indication that a strike was carried out by the IDF" inside the safe zone.

It has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of the "humanitarian zone" in Mawasi.

The locations of the attacks, provided by Civil Defence first responders, appear to be just outside an Israeli-designated safe zone on Gaza's Mediterranean coast.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the nearby hospital was flooded with casualties after the attack.

Hasan al Najjar, whose two sons were killed in the shelling, said: "We had a strike. My two sons left after they heard the women and children screaming.

"They went to save the women and that's when they struck the second missile, and my sons were martyred.

"They struck the place twice."

Mona Ashour, who lost her husband, said: "We were inside our tent when a sound bomb exploded near the Red Cross tents.

"My husband went outside at the first explosion.

"Then, a second bomb went off, even closer to the Red Cross door, and people began to gather.

"I tried to communicate with my husband but was unable to.

"We fled as we were in our clothes, barefoot. I tried to communicate with him but could not."

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The attack comes less than a month after an Israeli bombing caused a deadly fire that tore through a refugee camp in southern Gaza - drawing widespread international outrage.

Israel continues to push ahead with its military operation into Rafah where over a million Palestinians initially sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

However, most have now fled after Israel attacked the city in an effort, they said, to drive out Hamas.

Residents have said that Israel appears to be trying to complete its capture of the city and tanks have been forcing their way into western and northern parts.

Eastern, southern and central areas of Rafah have already been captured.

The United Nations has said no place in Gaza is safe and humanitarian conditions are dire as huge numbers of families shelter in tents and cramped apartments without adequate food, water or medical supplies.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to the territory's health ministry.

Israel launched the war after Hamas's October 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people and abducted about 250.