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Israeli strike condemned by world leaders, Egypt soldier killed in shooting


Dozens of people were killed in Rafah in southern Gaza late Sunday in an Israeli airstrike on an area where displaced civilians were sheltering in tents. The strike sparked a fire that tore across the camp, local officials said.

Images showed the area engulfed in flames as screaming Palestinians fled for safety, with some video shared on social media showing disturbing images, including severely burned corpses and a man holding what appeared to be the headless body of a small child.

The strike drew condemnation from world leaders just days after the United Nations’ top court ordered Israel to halt its offensive on the southern Gaza city, where more than a million people had sought refuge.

In an address to the Knesset on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike “a tragic incident,” his office said, clarifying comments made in Hebrew that could be translated in English as either “a tragic mishap” or “a tragic mistake.”

“We are investigating the case and will draw conclusions, because this is our policy,” he said.

As global outcry mounted, the Israel Defense Forces initially said that it had targeted two senior Hamas leaders, that it did not strike a designated humanitarian area and that it took steps to reduce the risk of harming civilians. It said a full investigation would be conducted into “the deaths of civilians in the area of the strike.”

Qatar warned the airstrike could hinder efforts to reach a cease-fire deal, which had been renewed in Europe over the weekend. Adding to tensions, Egypt’s military said one of its soldiers was killed after a firefight with Israeli forces was reported at the Rafah border area.

The IDF confirmed that “a shooting incident occurred on the Egyptian border,” adding that the incident was under review and that discussions were being held with the Egyptians.

NBC News was not able to independently verify the situation on the ground.

‘They said it is safe’

The Gaza Health Ministry reported that at least 35 people were killed in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, the majority of them women and children. First responders had warned the number of casualties could rise, as many people were trapped in flames that erupted after the bombardment.

And on Monday, the ministry said the death toll had risen to at least 45 people.

“This massacre is the largest in the city of Rafah in months,” the spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense in Rafah, Muhammad Al-Mughir, told NBC News. He stressed that the area was a designated “humanitarian area” next to U.N. warehouses.

Samuel Johann, the emergency coordinator in Gaza for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctor Without Borders, said Sunday’s strike hit just under a mile from one of its stabilization points for trauma patients. He said the facility received dozens of people, with at least 28 already dead and 180 arriving injured.



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