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Israeli missile strike on Rafah kills 45 people including women and children

An Israeli airstrike on Monday, May 27, hit an area where displaced civilians were sheltering in tents and sparked a fire that tore across the camp, killing dozens of people in Rafah a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Images shared on social media showed people engulfed in flames and severely burned corpses with a man holding what appears to be the headless body of a small child.

The strike drew condemnation from world leaders just days after the United Nations’ top court, the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its offensive on the southern Gaza City where more than a million had sought refuge.

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In response to the criticism from several quarters, the Israel Defense Forces said it had targeted two senior Hamas leaders, and it did not strike a designated humanitarian area.

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Qatar in response, warned it could hinder efforts to reach a cease-fire deal, which had been renewed in Europe over the weekend.

Also, Egypt’s military said one of its soldiers was killed after reports of a firefight with Israeli forces at the Rafah border area.

The IDF confirmed that “a shooting incident occurred on the Egyptian border,” adding that the incident was under review and that discussions were being held with the Egyptians.

The IDF said that the airstrike was based on “prior intelligence information regarding the presence of the senior Hamas terrorists at the site.” It said that before the strike “a number of steps were taken to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians” and that “it was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians.”

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The IDF also said it took steps to reduce the risk of harming civilians, but said a full probe would be conducted into “the deaths of civilians in the area of the strike.”

The Gaza health ministry reported that at least 35 people had been killed in the Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood, the majority of them women and children and as of Monday afternoon, the death toll had risen to at least 45 people.

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“This massacre is the largest in the city of Rafah in months,” the spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense in Rafah, Muhammad Al-Mughir, told NBC News. He stressed that the area hit was a designated “humanitarian area” next to U.N. warehouses.

Samuel Johann, the emergency coordinator in Gaza for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctor Without Borders, said Sunday’s strike hit just under a mile from an MSF stabilization point for trauma patients. He said the facility received dozens of people, with at least 28 already dead and 180 arriving injured.

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