Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza City; Casualties Are Reported (2024)

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Israel’s military said its fighter jets had targeted ‘Hamas military infrastructure.’

At least two Israeli airstrikes shook Gaza City on Saturday, sending rescue workers rushing to the scene amid destruction and unconfirmed reports of high casualties.

Many details remained unclear, but the Israeli military said its fighter jets had targeted “Hamas military infrastructure” at two sites in the area of Gaza City, without elaborating. Gazan rescue workers and residents said there were many killed and wounded at the scene, and that at least one of the strikes was big enough to kick up huge clouds of dust.

Mahmoud Basal, a spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense emergency rescue organization, said that more than 30 people had been killed and 50 wounded in separate strikes in at least three Gaza City residential neighborhoods — Tuffah, Shujaiyya and Shati — and that other victims were believed to still be trapped under rubble.

The toll could not be independently verified, and Gazan authorities do not distinguish between civilians and combatants when reporting casualty figures.

It was unclear what or whom the Israeli airstrikes had targeted. Since the beginning of the war, Israel has sought to assassinate senior members of Hamas in Gaza, including militant commanders and Hamas’s chief in the enclave, Yahya Sinwar. While Israeli forces have had some success picking off midlevel figures, Mr. Sinwar and most of the leadership have successfully eluded them.

Hamas has taken advantage of the urban areas in Gaza to provide its fighters and weapons infrastructure with an extra layer of protection, running tunnels under neighborhoods, launching rockets near civilian homes and holding hostages in city centers. Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, has said that the group tries to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way.

All three attacks took place around noon and targeted buildings in residential areas, said Mr. Basal, who said he visited the scenes. Rescuers were trying to reach people under the rubble, he said, “but our resources are limited.”

Mohammad Haddad, 25, who lives in Shati, heard “three or four loud explosions” before a cloud of gray dust descended upon the neighborhood. When the dust settled, Mr. Haddad said, he ventured out toward the site of the strikes.

The bombardment had hit six or seven houses in the same residential block, demolishing them, Mr. Haddad said. He said he saw roughly a dozen people killed and many others wounded.

“On the way, I saw people scattered on the ground,” some of them wounded and others killed, he said in a phone call. “There were so many, I couldn’t count.”

Human rights groups argue that Israel’s criteria for signing off on strikes during its campaign have been too permissive when it comes to civilian casualties. One airstrike in late October that targeted a Hamas militant commander in northern Gaza left dozens dead, including women and children.

In recent days, the Israeli military offensive has mostly focused on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces have operated for the past month and a half. Many of the million Gazans who had been sheltering there fled to the nearby area of Al-Mawasi, a coastal area in the southern Gaza Strip, on orders from the Israeli military, which had designated the area as a “safer zone.”

On Friday, as many as 25 people were killed and 50 wounded amid tents that were housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, according to aid agencies and Gazan health officials. The Israeli military said its initial inquiry showed “no indication” of a strike within the “safer zone.” It did not say whether it had struck elsewhere in the area.

Since the beginning of the war, Israeli military officials have said they will seek to target Palestinian militants wherever they operate, without ruling out striking in the areas they designate as safer.

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting from Haifa, Israel.

Key Developments

Israel says it killed a militant in a strike inside Lebanon, and other news.

  • Israel’s military said it killed a militant in an airstrike deep inside Lebanese territory on Saturday, as cross-border fire continues to stoke fears of a broader escalation. The Israeli military said in a statement that the target was responsible for funneling weapons to Hamas and another group, as well as “promotion and execution of terrorist activities against Israel.” Hamas did not immediately comment on the strike. Lebanese state media reported that the strike took place in a village about 25 miles from the Israeli border.

  • After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the chief of the United Nations warned on Friday that “the risk for the conflict in the Middle East to widen is real — and must be avoided.” Secretary General António Guterres said that “one rash move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group clashing with Israel in allegiance with Hamas fighters in Gaza, could set off a “catastrophe that goes far beyond the border and, frankly, beyond imagination.”

  • An influential member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition was caught on tape telling settlers in the occupied West Bank that the government is engaged in a stealthy campaign to impose control on the territory for the long term. In a leaked recording, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting that the goal was to deter the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli military says troops tied a wounded Palestinian to a vehicle.

Israeli troops tied a wounded Palestinian to the top of a military vehicle on Saturday morning during an operation in the occupied West Bank, a scene that was captured on video and quickly went viral, prompting outrage.

The Israeli military said that the act violated military procedure and that there would be an investigation.

Israeli soldiers raided Wadi Burqin, a Palestinian town on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, on Saturday morning to arrest Palestinians suspected of involvement in militant groups. Jenin, a longtime stronghold for loosely organized armed groups, has experienced repeated crackdowns by the Israeli military over the past few months.

A firefight broke out between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers, the military said. Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian injured in the shooting.

“In violation of orders and standard operating procedures, the suspect was taken by the forces while tied on top of a vehicle,” the Israeli military said, adding that such conduct “does not conform to the values” of its army.

The troops handed over the wounded Palestinian to the Palestinian Red Crescent for medical care, the Israeli military said.

The occupied West Bank has seen increasing violence over the past eight months after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 and during the subsequent war in Gaza. More than 500 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in the territory, according to the United Nations, and thousands of Palestinians have been arrested in near-nightly Israeli raids.

Aaron Boxerman

Israel says it is investigating a strike that killed dozens near a Red Cross office in Gaza.


Israel said Saturday it was investigating an airstrike in Al-Mawasi in southern Gaza after the International Committee of the Red Cross said that “heavy-caliber” projectiles fell meters away from an office and residences for the aid group.

The strike killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens of others who were then taken to a nearby field hospital, the Red Cross said.

William Schomburg, the leader of the Red Cross operation in Gaza, did not blame the Israeli military or Hamas but said all parties to the conflict were aware of the Red Cross’s buildings south of a zone designated as “safer” for displaced Palestinians fleeing fighting in Gaza.

“We’re not here to lay blame,” Mr. Schomburg said, adding that his focus was on how to best respond to the episode and how to avoid it from happening again. The Red Cross strives to remain neutral in conflicts in an effort to be able to provide aid to whomever needs it.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it did not carry out a direct attack against a Red Cross facility. It did not say whether it had struck elsewhere in the area.

“The incident will be quickly examined, and its findings will be presented to our international partners,” the military said in a statement on Saturday.

Since the beginning of the war, Israeli military officials have repeatedly accused Hamas fighters of hiding within the civilian population.


Describing the macabre scene in the aftermath of Friday’s strike, Mr. Schomburg said there were three large explosions that left “piles of dead bodies” and “blood everywhere.” He added that the I.C.R.C. team in Rafah had collected body parts scattered in the area.

“Frankly, it’s nothing like I have ever seen before,” Mr. Schomburg told reporters in an online news briefing Saturday.

Josep Borrell, a top diplomat from the European Union, condemned the attack and called for an independent investigation. He said those responsible should be held accountable.

Adam Rasgon and Anjana Sankar

As the war stretches on, Gaza’s high school students miss their final exams and put plans on hold.


Karim al-Masri was supposed to start his final exams on Saturday morning, just a few weeks shy of graduating. Instead, he spent his morning filling bags of water to freeze into ice, which he sold to support his family.

“I should have been studying and preparing for my final exams,” said Mr. al-Masri, 18. But, more than eight months into the war, “I’m spending my days working to provide for my family to cope with the situation.”

Mr. al-Masri was one of nearly 39,000 students in Gaza who were unable to take their high school final examinations scheduled to begin on Saturday across the Palestinian territories and in Jordan, and who would not be able to graduate, according to the Palestinian Education Ministry.

The war has devastated Gaza’s education system, which was already struggling after several wars and escalations since 2008. At least 625,000 children are missing out on education in Gaza, according to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists Palestinians, with schools shut since the war began in October, just over a month into the school year.

More than 76 percent of schools in Gaza would require rebuilding or major rehabilitation to become functional after Israel’s monthslong offensive, according to UNRWA, which operates many schools in the Gaza Strip. The majority of these schools have been used as shelters to house the many displaced families in Gaza, most of whom are living in miserable conditions.

Mr. al-Masri said that he dreamed of studying information technology at the Islamic University of Gaza or the University College of Applied Sciences — both of which have been destroyed by Israeli bombardment. All of Gaza’s 12 universities have been severely damaged or destroyed by fighting, according to the United Nations.

Instead of pinning his hopes on going back to school and graduating, he said the war had shifted his priorities, and he was now focused on working to continue supporting his family. While selling ice in his town of Deir al Balah in central Gaza, Mr. al-Masri said he often walked past his school, where “the classrooms have turned into shelters,” and when he peeks inside, he is “filled with agony.”

Islam al-Najjar, 18, who was also supposed to be taking her first final exam on Saturday, said that her school in Deir al Balah, to which many Gazans have fled from Israel’s Rafah offensive, had also been turned into a shelter.

“I can’t imagine going back to see my school, a place where we learn, turned into a shelter full of displaced people living in miserable conditions,” she said.

“When we do go back, we won’t be seeing all of the same faces,” she said, referring to her classmate, two teachers and her principal who had been killed during the war.

Ms. al-Najjar remains hopeful about the possibility of being able to go back to school and graduating. Despite the “many hurdles to everything you want to achieve in Gaza,” she said, she dreams of studying abroad and has set her sights on Harvard University or the University of Oxford to study business.

“I was very excited for my final year of school and to begin a new chapter,” said Ms. al-Najjar, the eldest in her family, who had been planning her graduation celebrations before the war started. “But of course, the war put a stop to everything.”

“Why does the spring of our life coincide with the fall of our country?” said Ms. al-Najjar. “Is it our fault that we dared to dream?”

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting from London.

Hiba Yazbek reporting from Nazareth, Israel

Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza City; Casualties Are Reported (2024)


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