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People Burned Alive, Child Decapitated: Report from Rafah on Israeli Strike That Killed 45 in Camp

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We go to Rafah for an update after an Israeli attack on refugee tent camps in what had previously been declared a “safe zone” killed at least 45 people, including women and children. “Basically, the situation is totally catastrophic,” reports Palestinian journalist Shrouq Aila, from Rafah. She explains the bombs set tents made largely of nylon on fire, igniting a deadly blaze, and that Israel’s relentless assault has made three hospitals in the city inoperable. “People are in a total mess and desperate because of this,” she says. Aila has been displaced since the start of the war from Jabaliya, where she had been studying English at the now-destroyed Islamic University of Gaza.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Gaza, where health officials say at least 46 people were killed and more than 110 injured across Gaza in the last 24 hours, as Israel continues to bomb Rafah after its forces on Sunday night bombed yet another tent camp in the southern city that was housing displaced Palestinians in an area that had been declared a safe zone. Officials say many of the bodies were charred after the Israeli attack caused a fire that tore through the camp. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday called the Rafah strikes a “tragic mistake” and vowed to investigate amidst global outrage.

The attack came just two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately stop its assault on Rafah. Meanwhile, Palestinians continue to flee Rafah amidst ongoing Israeli attacks.

DISPLACED PALESTINIAN 1: [translated] We don’t know where we’re going. We woke up at 6:00 in the morning — at 5:30 in the morning from the shelling and rockets. We are going. God knows, in our situation, we don’t have tents, and we don’t have anything. We have children with us. We have more people to transport. My aunt and my mother-in-law, they are under the shelling, and I will go and get them. There is no transportation. There is nothing. In terms of means of life, this is what we woke up to at 5:30 in the morning.

DISPLACED PALESTINIAN 2: [translated] I don’t know. I’m just walking in the street. I don’t know where to come or go. They say that we should go somewhere safe. There is nowhere safe. There is no area that is safe. Where should we go? Let the Arab world look at us now. Let the Arabs look at us and see what is happening to us. God is my suffice and the best disposer of my affairs. This is not a life. This is not a life. This is not a life. We are sick. I don’t know what to say. We are walking, but we cannot walk or come or go.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Rafah, in Gaza. We’re joined by independent journalist Shrouq Aila. She lived in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza before October 7th, had been studying English at Islamic University in Gaza.

We welcome you, Shrouq, to Democracy Now! If you can talk about what you understand happened on Sunday night —


AMY GOODMAN: — with the attack on the camp that was designated by Israel as a safe zone, the Israeli bombing that took out the lives of 45 people as it hit some kind of oil tank and the fire ripped through the camp?

SHROUQ AILA: OK. So, on Friday, when the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately halt its offense in Rafah city — Rafah city is a city that is full of over 1 million displaced people who came through the Gaza Strip. This is according to the Israeli army, who issued that the Rafah area is a safe area and considered as a designed humanitarian area. So, over 1 million sought refuge at this city. And after the order of the ICJ, Israel is unlikely comply with the order and responded with more attacks in the area and expanding its military operation in Rafah city.

And two days ago, it happened when they launched at least two rockets on a displacement camp that is quite close to the UNRWA logistic log, which is a base, refers to UNRWA, and people gathered around this space, considering it, you know, as a green area, a safe area. And after the bombing, the area is basically full of tents for displaced people, and the fire set on because of — you know, the tents are basically made of nylon fabrics and wood, and this severely affected in having more fire, and which caused the death toll raised until 45, and almost plus 200 got injured.

And yesterday, the past night, since the midnight ’til the 6 a.m., the Israeli army shelled and attacked the Rafah city once again heavily. And the sounds of the explosion in Rafah were totally heard and clearly in the middle area of the Gaza Strip. And they expanded the operations more in the area, which caused in three hospitals to be out of the service: the Indonesian Hospital and the Emirati Hospital and also Kuwaiti Hospital. So, because of the attack in the past night, three hospitals went out of service.

And also, lots of people are being now in streets, unable to recognize where to go, especially because of the fuel crisis. This fuel crisis, like, happened because of the closure of the borders, because of the Rafah invasion. So, we really have a crisis in transportations. The fees of the transportations is quite high. The people are unable to afford it. So some of the people decided to stay and not to leave, because they are unable to afford the transportations to move for other areas, and while others decided to just walk in the streets to reach somewhere else, but not Rafah, and while others, they managed to leave the area.

And basically, the situation is totally catastrophic. Because of the last night, almost five, so far, got killed, and lots of injuries, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. And people are in a total despair. Like, despite these dire conditions, they are unable to know where shall they go. Especially like Rafah, the so-called safe area, is not safe area anymore. And tents are a threat and not safe areas for displaced people. So, people now are trying just to move to the middle area of the Gaza Strip or to Khan Younis city. Khan Younis city, in the past three, four months, it suffered from very heavy bombardment in the area, that led in almost total destruction in the entire city. So, now people are establishing their tents on the rubbles of the houses. So, it’s not the issue of the buildings now or the issue of having a place to stay, but it is about just moving your tent from so-called safe area to so-called safe area. And people are in a total mess and despair because of this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Shrouq, I wanted to ask you — Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called the strike a tragic error and that Israel is investigating, but he keeps defending what he calls the precise use of weapons by Israel and continues to insist that the assault on Rafah will continue. What’s your response?

SHROUQ AILA: I’m not sure if I got your question correctly because of the connections. But in terms of the Israelis doing investigations on the attacks, like, sometimes, you know, it just happened, and investigations will not pay off whatever rights to get back, especially after having lots of casualties and also lefting people in the streets and in a total catastrophic and dire conditions to seek for other shelters and other places to stay in.

AMY GOODMAN: Shrouq Aila, I’m wondering also — we’re about to go to the International —

SHROUQ AILA: But mostly, like, [inaudible] something, mostly in the recent attack on the displacement tents, camp tents —

AMY GOODMAN: — Court of Justice in The Hague, and we wanted to get your response. We’re about to go to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, but we wanted to get your response, people’s response on the ground in Gaza, to the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel had to stop the — stop the assault on Gaza and Rafah immediately.

SHROUQ AILA: All right. So, when it comes to such attacks, basically, we can see that the casualties and the losses that we are having are basically kids and women, like mostly civilians. And, you know, the area — like, let me say, when it comes to attacking tents, you know, it’s such a soft area that can get easily destroyed by wind or by heavy rain. But launching rockets in this area for a military reason, it basically causes a catastrophe in the area.

And you can add for this that people now are sinking and harrowing in the fear that there is no safe place, you know, that they are just lost, that they are unable to recognize where they shall go and if this decision of moving is such a good decision, or they are going to killed with the sequences, with the consequences of not moving around for other places. So, let me say, there is no safe area, and there is no protection, and there is no so-called green areas or safety area that people can go and seek refugee at.

AMY GOODMAN: Shrouq Aila, I want to thank you so much for being with us, independent journalist and producer in Rafah, Gaza, formerly lived in the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza, studied English at Islamic University there.

When we come back, the continued Rafah attack and the bombing that led to at least 45 people being killed in Rafah, in a safe zone, came just two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately stop its assault on Rafah. We’ll go to The Hague for an update. Stay with us.

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Latest Israeli Rafah Attack Kills 45, Injures 110+; How Can World Enforce ICJ’s Ruling to End Assault?

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