May 26, 2024

Israel Bombs UN Shelter in Gaza, Killing 9

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Jan 25, 2024

Israel launched a deadly attack on a United Nations shelter in Gaza on January 24th, killing at least 9 civilians and wounding over 75. The strike targeted a vocational training center in Khan Younis being used to house over 1,000 displaced Palestinians. Global condemnation was swift, with even staunch Israeli ally the United States strongly criticizing the bombing.

The Attack

An Israeli tank fired 4 shells at the UN shelter early Wednesday morning. According to Gaza health officials, 9 people were killed instantly and at least another 75 suffered shrapnel and blast injuries. The dead included 3 women and 4 children. It was the single deadliest incident since the latest round of fighting erupted between Israel and Hamas 10 days ago.

The area around Khan Younis has seen intense bombardment over the past week as Israel continues its widening offensive aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks. Tens of thousands have fled frontline areas like northern and eastern Gaza, seeking shelter at UN facilities. Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner of UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said civilians had nowhere left to hide from Israeli bombs:

“Children, women and men sheltering in a UN site have been killed. Children killed while they slept next to their parents. This is heartbreaking, infuriating and unacceptable. They deserve safety and protection instead of shellfire and death in a place they thought would bring that.”

Global Outrage

News of the deadly strike was met with anger from world leaders and humanitarian groups. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified and dismayed” and demanded an immediate investigation. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza could not get “any worse.”

In a rare rebuke of its closest Middle East ally, the White House released a statement expressing grave concern over Israel’s attack and hinting that it likely violated international law:

“We are deeply disturbed by violence aimed at innocent civilians and United Nations personnel. We support calls for a full and transparent investigation into this tragic incident.”

Encirling Khan Younis

The bombing comes as thousands of Israeli troops mass on the outskirts of Khan Younis city, which has a population of over 200,000. After more than a week of intense aerial bombardment, Israel now seems poised to launch a full scale ground invasion aimed at ousting Hamas from its Gaza stronghold.

Khan Younis hospitals are flooded with wounded even as they face severe supply shortages. The city is almost completely cut off – its residents trapped with dwindling food, water and medicine. An estimated 30-40,000 civilians remain in the area. The UN has urgently appealed to both sides to halt fighting so that civilians can evacuate. Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has rejected calls for a ceasefire or truce until Hamas releases two Israeli civilians believed held hostage since late September. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing pressure from hardliners in his governing coalition to deal a decisive blow to Hamas before upcoming Israeli elections in March.

Hamas Defiant

Trapped on the inside and facing a vastly more powerful foe, Hamas has remained defiant. Spokesman Abu Zuhri accused Israel of committing “heinous crimes against civilians” and vowed to keep up rocket attacks on Israeli cities:

“The enemy’s ground invasion of Gaza is a chance for us to increase our catch of captive soldiers. The Zionists will pay dearly if they dare step foot in Gaza.”

Most military analysts expect Israeli troops to push into Khan Younis in coming days as they attempt to kill or capture the Hamas leadership and destroy underground rocket launchers, tunnels and weapons caches. Urban warfare with entrenched Hamas guerillas is expected to drive civilian causalities higher even as outrage and diplomatic pressure on Israel mounts. It remains unclear if key Hamas figures remain in the city or have already fled. Of grave concern is Al-Quds hospital, where several senior Hamas military commanders are rumored to be holed up. The hospital houses Gaza’s only radiation therapy machine for cancer patients, making any attack politically sensitive. Neighboring Israel and Egypt maintain a crippling blockade on Gaza, restricting people and goods from entering or exiting the 141 square mile coastal enclave. Nearly 2 million Palestinians live in the impoverished and densely packed territory.

Casualty Count Rising

Day Palestinian Deaths Palestinian Wounded Israeli Deaths Israeli Wounded
1 12 84 0 3
2 19 103 2 12
3 32 159 3 19
4 41 201 4 22
5 52 267 6 31
6 73 391 7 37
7 93 502 9 46
8 112 623 11 58
9 134 781 14 69
10 167 924 17 84

The rising death toll and possibility of a protracted Gaza war is increasing pressure on mediators Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to broker a ceasefire. All previous truce attempts have failed over disputes regarding the release of two Israelis held in Gaza and easing of Israeli restrictions on goods and people entering and exiting the Palestinian enclave.

With over 160 Palestinians and 17 Israelis killed over the past 10 days, this round of fighting is already approaching the scale of the devastating 50 day Gaza war in 2014. Humanitarian groups warn that trapped civilians face critical shortages of food, water, fuel and medical supplies even as bombs continue raining down. Diplomatic efforts will likely intensify in coming days to halt the bloodshed. But with hardline politicians dominating upcoming elections on both sides, the violence seems set to worsen absent outside intervention or an unexpected breakthrough in ceasefire talks.

What Next?

In the short term, all signs point to a massive Israeli ground offensive aimed at ousting Hamas from Khan Younis in the coming days. Israel likely aims to deal a devastating blow to Hamas rocket launch and weapons capabilities while capturing or killing key militant figures. Expect fierce urban combat to drive up civilian deaths as Hamas fights block to block.

If Hamas chooses to largely melt away as Israeli troops push in, civilian casualties may remain more contained. But the psychological blow to Hamas legitimacy and the likely capture of political and military leaders could crush the militant group as Gaza rulers – perhaps fatally.

In either scenario, WHO warns Gaza’s fragile health system is near collapse while civilians are trapped by unrelenting Israeli bombardment and closure of access routes. Only a ceasefire or intervention by outside powers seems likely to spare residents from greater devastation. But with Israeli elections looming and Hamas desperate to change the status quo after 15 years of economic strangulation, incentives for compromise remain elusive.

Absent a swift halt to fighting and easing of Gaza access restrictions however, Gaza faces a deepening humanitarian emergency that will resonate globally. Israel insists these measures are necessary to contain the Hamas threat. Palestinians counter that the blockade itself breeds militancy while collectively punishing civilians.

For now Israeli tanks grind forward even as shells and rockets arc overhead. Families huddle in basements awaiting their fate. And the world watches, increasingly uneasy with the rising price Gaza civilians pay.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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