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Gaza hospital says 20 killed in Israeli strike

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PALESTINIAN Territories – A Gaza hospital said Sunday an Israeli air strike targeting a house at a refugee camp in the center of the Palestinian territory killed at least 20 people.

“We received 20 fatalities and several wounded after an Israeli air strike targeted a house belonging to the Hassan family in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital said in a statement.

Witnesses said the strike occurred around 3:00 am local time. The Israeli army said it was checking the report.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported the wounded included several children, and rescuers were searching for missing people trapped under the rubble.

Fierce battles and heavy Israeli bombardments have been reported in the central Nuseirat camp since the military launched a “targeted” operation focusing on the southern city of Rafah in early May.

In related developments:

Israeli war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Saturday he would resign from the body unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.

“The war Cabinet must formulate and approve by June 8 an action plan that will lead to the realization of six strategic goals of national importance.. (or) we will be forced to resign from the government,” Gantz said, referring to his party, in a televised address directed at Netanyahu.

Gantz said the six goals included toppling Hamas, ensuring Israeli security control over the Palestinian territory and returning Israeli hostages.

“Along with maintaining Israeli security control, establish an American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that will manage civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip and lay the foundation for a future alternative that is not Hamas or (Mahmud) Abbas,” he said, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority.

He also urged the normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia “as part of an overall move that will create an alliance with the free world and the Arab world against Iran and its affiliates”.

Netanyahu responded to Gantz’s threat on Saturday by slamming the minister’s demands as “washed-up words whose meaning is clear: the end of the war and a defeat for Israel, the abandoning of most of the hostages, leaving Hamas intact and the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

The Israeli army has been battling Hamas militants across the Gaza Strip for more than seven months.

But broad splits have emerged in the Israeli war cabinet in recent days after Hamas fighters regrouped in northern Gaza, an area where Israel previously said the group had been neutralized.

Netanyahu came under personal attack from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday for failing to rule out an Israeli government in Gaza after the war.

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7 on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said Saturday that 800,000 people had been “forced to flee” Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah since Israel began military operations there this month.

“Nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said in a post on social media site X.

Following the evacuation orders Gazans have fled to “the middle areas and Khan Younis including to destroyed buildings,” he said.

“Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have ….Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again.”

Israel has said the ground assault on Rafah was crucial to its fight against Palestinian militants, insisting it was the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

Before the operation began, Israel told hundreds of thousands of Gazans sheltering in some eastern parts of the city to leave, describing its operation there as “limited”.

Israel’s closest ally the United States expressed firm objections to the expansion of operations in Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinian civilians were sheltering before the operation began.

Heavy clashes and bombardment rocked Rafah on Saturday, as Israel pressed an assault against Hamas militants.

An AFP reporter said air strikes and artillery shells pounded eastern parts of the city as warplanes criss-crossed above.

Lazzarini said people were fleeing to areas without water supplies or adequate sanitation.

Al-Mawasi, a 14 square kilometre town on the coast, as well as the central city of Deir el- Balah, were “crammed” with recently displaced people, Lazzarini added.

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