HATFIELD, United Kingdom (VOICE OF NAIJA) – Israeli airstrikes pounded locations across the Gaza Strip early Thursday, including parts of the south that Israel had declared as safe zones, heightening fears among more than 2 million Palestinians trapped in the territory that nowhere was safe.
In the nearly two weeks since a devastating Hamas rampage in southern Israel, the Israeli military has relentlessly attacked Gaza in response.
Even after Israel told Palestinians to evacuate the north and head to what it called “safe zones” in the south, strikes continued overnight throughout the densely populated territory.
A residential building in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had sought shelter, was among the places hit.
Medical personnel at Nasser Hospital said they received at least 12 dead and 40 wounded.
The bombardments came after Israel agreed Wednesday to allow Egypt to deliver limited humanitarian aid to Gaza, the first crack in a punishing 11-day siege. Many among Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have cut down to one meal a day and resorted to drinking dirty water.
The announcement of a plan to bring water, food and other supplies into Gaza came as fury over a Tuesday night explosion at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Hospital spread across the Middle East. There were conflicting claims of who was behind the blast, which the Hamas-run Health Authority said had killed hundreds of Palestinians.
Hamas officials in Gaza blamed an Israeli airstrike, saying hundreds were killed. Israel denied it was involved and released a flurry of video, audio and other information that it said showed the blast was instead due to a rocket misfire by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. Islamic Jihad dismissed the Israeli claim.
The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday, said data from his Defense Department showed the explosion was not likely caused by an Israeli airstrike.
The White House later said an analysis of “overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information” showed Israel was not behind the attack. But the U.S. continues to collect evidence.
Video from the scene showed the hospital grounds strewn with torn bodies, many of them young children. Hundreds of wounded were rushed to Gaza City’s main hospital, where doctors already facing critical supply shortages were sometimes forced to perform surgery on the floors, often without anesthesia.
More than 1 million Palestinians, roughly half of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes in Gaza City and other places in the northern part of the territory since Israel told them to evacuate. Most have crowded into U.N.-run school shelters or the homes of relatives.
Following early Thursday’s airstrikes, sirens wailed as emergency crews rushed to rescue survivors from a building in Khan Younis, where many residents were believed trapped under misshapen bed frames, broken furniture and cement chunks.