Explosion Gazans Say Was Airstrike Leaves Many Casualties in Dense Neighborhood


An explosion overnight in a densely populated refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip destroyed several buildings and appeared to have killed and wounded many people, photos and videos from the scene on Sunday showed.

The Gazan Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike had hit the Al Maghazi camp, killing at least 47 people and wounding dozens of others. It warned that the toll was expected to rise, saying that many bodies remained buried under the rubble.

Casualties were taken to the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where a photographer for The New York Times saw the injured crowding the hallways and the lifeless being prepared for burial.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said it was looking into reports of the strike.

Israel hit a neighborhood with a similar refugee camp last week in a strike that Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, and local doctors said had killed or wounded hundreds of people. The toll of that strike — which Israel said had killed a Hamas leader and other operatives and hit a network of Hamas tunnels it claimed was below the residential buildings — provoked international outrage.

On Sunday, Mohammed al-Aloul, a photographer for Anadolu Agency, a Turkish state-run news service, said he was out working when news and videos from Al Maghazi, his neighborhood, began flooding his phone.

Explosion Gazans Say Was Airstrike Leaves Many Casualties in Dense Neighborhood
An explosion in the densely populated Al Maghazi refugee camp was an Israeli airstrike, according to the Gazan health ministry. Video of the aftermath shows people searching through the rubble for victims.Reuters

While scrolling through them, his biggest fear came true: Four of his five children — Qais, Ahmad, Rahaf, and Kenaan — were among the lifeless bodies being pulled from under the rubble.

A few hours later, Mr. al-Aloul was leading their funeral prayer near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, still wearing his blue press vest as he faced the children’s small shrouded bodies. Behind him, more than a dozen men prayed, some of whom had also lost children.

Inside the hospital were his only surviving family members: His youngest, 1-year-old Adam, and his wife, Amnah, who was in critical condition. Mr. al-Aloul said he also lost several other relatives in the strike.

Amnah sustained serious burns to the face, broken bones and shrapnel wounds. When a photographer for The New York Times visited her at the hospital, she was sharing a single bed with her sister-in-law, who was also in serious condition.

The hospital, like most in Gaza, was overcrowded, leaving many of the wounded to be treated in corridors. Mr. al-Aloul’s son Adam was among them, his face covered in cuts from shrapnel.

Mohammed al-Aloul’s youngest and only surviving child, Adam, suffered cuts from shrapnel, and his mother had facial burns and broken bones.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

The Al Maghazi camp is one of the smaller camps in Gaza, both in size and population, according to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians. The agency — which runs the camps — said that Al Maghazi was known for its “narrow alleys and a high population density,” with 33,255 people living in 0.6 square kilometers, or 0.2 square miles.

Like Gaza’s eight other refugee camps, Al Maghazi has been generally built up since it was created in 1949, and it houses Palestinians who fled or were expelled during the wars that surrounded Israel’s creation, along with their descendants.


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