Palestinians say 19 members of same family killed in southern Gaza strike
Nasser Abu Quta tells AP that the Israeli military fired an evacuation warning shot a short distance from his home, a precautionary measure meant to allow people to evacuate before airstrikes.
Abu Quta, 57, thought he and his extended family would be safe some hundred meters away from the house that was alerted to the pending strike. He huddled with his relatives on the ground floor of his four-story building, bracing for an impact in the area.
But the house of Abu Quta’s neighbor was never hit. In an instant, an explosion ripped through his own home, wiping out 19 members of his family, including his wife and cousins, he said. The airstrike also killed five of his neighbors who were standing outside in the jam-packed refugee camp, a jumble of buildings and alleyways.
The airstrike in Rafah, a southern town on the border with Egypt, came as Israeli forces intensified their bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip following a big, multi-front attack by Hamas militants Saturday that had killed over 700 people in Israel by Sunday night. Hamas also took dozens of Israelis hostage and fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli population centers, although most were intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome defense system.
So far, the waves of airstrikes had killed over 400 Palestinians, including dozens of women and children, health officials reported Sunday. There appeared to be several similar deadly airstrikes on crowded residential buildings.
The Israeli military said late Saturday that it had struck various Hamas offices and command centers in multi-story buildings.
But Abu Quta doesn’t understand why Israel struck his house. There were no militants in his building, he insisted, and his family was not warned. They would not have stayed in their house if they were, added his relative, Khalid.
“This is a safe house, with children and women,” Abu Quta, still shell-shocked, said as he recalled the tragedy in fragments of detail.
“Dust overwhelmed the house. There were screams,” he said. “There were no walls. It was all open.”
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the strike on Abu Quta’s home.
The army says that it conducts precision strikes aimed at militant commanders or operation sites and that it does not target civilians. It also points to its adversaries’ practice of embedding militants in civilian areas throughout the impoverished coastal enclave of 2.3 million people, which is under a under a severe land, air and sea blockade by Israel and Egypt.
But human rights groups have previously said that Israel’s pattern of deadly attacks on residential homes display a disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians and argued they may amount to war crimes.
In past wars and rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants, individual Israeli airstrikes have killed great numbers of civilians — for instance, 22 members of the same family in a single strike in a bloody 2021 war.
Abu Quta was gripped by grief Sunday as he prepared for the rush of burials with his two dozen other surviving relatives, including wounded children and grandchildren. Many corpses pulled out from under the rubble were charred and mangled, he said.
While he managed to identify the bodies of 14 family members, at least four children’s bodies remained in the morgue, unrecognizable. One body was missing.
“Maybe we’ll put them tomorrow in a single grave,” he said. “May they rest in peace.”(AP)
🔴 ISRAEL: FUNERAL UNDER WAY OF ABU QUTA FAMILY OF 12 INCL. 4 CHILDREN KILLED IN IDF BOMBING OF RAFAH. pic.twitter.com/urbEXQL4K6— Bloomberg Whistleblower (@bloombergblower) October 8, 2023
1,000 Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel; most killed or back to Gaza: Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday revealed that Americans may also have been taken hostage in the surprise assaults launched by the Hamas militants on Israel. Speaking on ABC’s ‘This Week’, Blinken said as many as 1,000 Hamas fighters were reported to have participated in the attacks, which have left a trail of devastation in their wake.
Israel-Hamas war live: Death toll rises as attacks continue to pound Gaza
Hamas holding more than 100 people captive in Gaza
A senior Hamas official has said the group is holding more than 100 people captive after its unprecedented attack on Israel.
Mousa Abu Marzouk made the remarks to Arabic language news outlet al-Ghad on Sunday. “Senior Israeli officers are among those being held,” he said.
The figure is in addition to more than 30 people said to be held by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.
The captives Hamas fighters dragged into Gaza include women, children and the elderly. Their precise number has not been clear until the announcements from Hamas and PIJ.
Israeli boy hurt in rocket attack on Ashkelon: Reports
An eight-year-old Israeli boy has been wounded after rockets launched from Gaza hit a residential building in the southern city of Ashkelon, according to local media reports.
Israel amasses 100,000 reserve troops near Gaza
A spokesman for the Israeli military said his country has gathered 100,000 reserve troops near Gaza for the ongoing war with Hamas.
“We have amassed around 100,000 reserve troops who are currently in southern Israel,” said Jonathan Conricus in a video posted to X.
“Our job is to make sure that at the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have any military capability to threaten Israeli civilians,” he said. “In addition to that, we are also to make sure that Hamas will not be able to govern the Gaza Strip.”
Conricus added that Israeli troops are hunting down the last Palestinian fighters who had infiltrated southern Israel.
UN members ‘hold primary responsibility’ for violence: Rights groups
The “UN Member States hold primary responsibility for the violence in Palestine through their inaction and complicity in Israel’s systematic and widespread violations,” three Palestinian human rights organisations have said in an open letter to members of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The Palestine-based organisations – Al-Haq, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights – called on UN member states to address the “root causes and protect the Palestinian people from Israeli attacks”.
The groups sent the letter as the 15 members of the UNSC held emergency consultations in New York on Sunday afternoon.
“The past two years have been marked as the bloodiest of Israeli violence since the second Intifada,” the letter said.
It described the land, air and maritime closures imposed on Palestinians in Gaza as “measures of collective punishment, in violation of international law”.
“Israel has carried out at least seven massive military offensives since 2008, which have rendered the Gaza Strip uninhabitable,” the letter added.
The Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights are civil organisations based in the Gaza Strip while Al-Haq has its headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank.
(With Inputs From Agencies)