Women and children killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza - as US envoy meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

19 May 2024, 08:56 | Updated: 19 May 2024, 13:12

Women and children were among 28 people killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza on Sunday, officials have said.

The territory's Hamas-run health ministry said at least 20 people died in the bombing of a house in Nuseirat - a refugee camp in central Gaza.

The dead included eight women and four children, including a two-year-old girl called Sabreen, according to records at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

A separate strike on a street in Nuseirat killed another five people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service.

It came as heavy fighting continued in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the World Food Program says a famine is underway.

Just "a fraction" of health centres are still operating in the territory, the United Nations (UN) warned on Saturday.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan was on Sunday due to meet with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss a plan for Saudi Arabia to recognise Israel and for the Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza in exchange for eventual statehood.

Netanyahu, whose war cabinet member Benny Gantz is threatening to resign unless a new plan is adopted, has rejected the proposals and wants open-ended security control over Gaza.

The UN said on Saturday that 800,000 people have now been forced to flee Rafah since Israel Defence Forces launched an offensive against the city on 6 May - closing off a vital aid supply route.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), said last night on X: "Since the war in Gaza began, Palestinians have been forced to flee multiple times in search of safety that they have never found."

Each time people move "they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have: mattresses, tents, cooking utensils and basic supplies that they cannot carry or pay to transport", he said.

Mazen Abdel Dayem, who has been displaced from Beit Hanoun, said: "Life is unbearable. There is no sewage network... no one to provide water for us, or the municipality to clean up the dumped garbage and the bombing sites. There is no life."

In the UK, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on Sunday issued fresh calls for the UK to restart funding for UNRWA, as Defence Secretary Grant Shapps appeared on Sunday morning political programmes.

The Foreign Office in January paused funding for UNRWA over allegations that 12 staff members had taken part in the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, which killed around 1,200 people.

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More than 35,000 people have died in Gaza since Israel launched its assault on the territory following the 7 October attacks, according to officials.

Israel has claimed that Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas, but recently reignited combat in parts of northern Gaza, which it said it had cleared earlier in the war, to stop its fighters from regrouping there.

Israel is yet to accomplish its stated goals of dismantling Hamas and returning the scores of hostages abducted in the 7 October attack.

On Sunday Israel confirmed two more of its soldiers had been killed in a battle in southern Gaza.

About 125 of the 253 people abducted in Hamas's October raid are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza.