At least eight killed in Israeli air strike on UNRWA aid centre in Gaza

The main gate of the compound, facilitating aid distribution and housing the displaced, was hit in the attack.

Palestinians carry a wounded outside the UNRWA headquarters following an Israeli attack in Gaza City,
Palestinians carry a wounded woman outside the UNRWA headquarters following an Israeli attack in Gaza City, June 23, 2024 [Mahmoud Issa/Reuters]

At least eight people have been killed in an Israeli air attack near an aid centre that was the main headquarters of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip.

The air strike on Sunday hit the main gate of the organisation’s compound in Gaza City in the north of the enclave, injuring multiple Palestinians. The facility is used to distribute the little humanitarian aid that gets into Gaza.

Hundreds of people displaced by the Israeli military’s ground invasion of Gaza were sheltering inside the facility at the time of the incident.

A Palestinian woman at the scene told Al Jazeera that she saw many dead bodies and that two of her children were injured in the attack.

“What did these innocent children do wrong? They are running from death towards death. Young men and women are slaughtered by the Israelis,” she said.

“Some people were coming to receive coupons and others had been displaced from their houses and they were sheltering here. Some were filling up water, others were receiving coupons, and suddenly we heard something falling. We ran away, those who were carrying water let it spill,” said Mohammed Tafesh, one of the witnesses.

A Reuters photographer saw a low-rise building completely demolished and bodies wrapped in blankets laid out beside the road, waiting to be taken away.

Commenting on the attack, the Israeli military said that the building was a “shield for terrorist activities” and had been used by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The attack comes after a series of strikes throughout the city a day earlier, including on the Shati and Tufah camps, where displaced Palestinians in the north had been told to seek refuge by the Israeli military. At least 42 Palestinians were killed in those attacks.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said on Saturday that at least 101 Palestinians were killed in the preceding 24 hours, with 169 wounded.

This marked the deadliest day since the June 8 massacre of the Nuseirat refugee camp that killed at least 274 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more in a daylight operation that led to the rescue of four Israeli captives.

Israeli forces have killed 37,598 Palestinians and wounded 86,032 others, many of them children and women, in more than eight months of devastating military offensive, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Israeli attacks on aid distribution and UN facilities are ongoing despite international condemnation and calls for an immediate ceasefire and a surge of aid to stave off the deadly consequences of blocking food, fuel and medicine to Gaza.

According to UNRWA, 445 attacks by the Israeli military damaging 188 different UN facility premises have been reported since the start of the war. At least 500 displaced Palestinians have been killed while sheltering in the premises, with 1,547 injured.

The Israeli military has also killed a record 193 UN staff since October 7.

Meanwhile, aid is piling up and rotting outside the Gaza Strip as a complex bureaucratic procedure set up by the Israeli military and the security challenges of operating inside the enclave are preventing war-stricken Palestinians from getting relief.

Source: Al Jazeera