Israeli tanks have targeted a massive UN compound housing up to 30,000 displaced Palestinians, leading to "mass casualties" according to the United Nations and drawing condemnation even from the US.
IDF forces struck a vocational training compound in Khan Younis, where approximately 30,000 displaced people sought refuge. The attack triggered an unprecedented rebuke from the United States, marking a rare instance of Washington openly condemning an Israeli military action.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator, James McGoldrick, said the strike caused extensive damage, with reports of deaths and many individuals trapped under the rubble. He said teams are struggling to provide refugees with even basic humanitarian aid like food and water, medical support, shelter and sanitation.
UNRWA Director of Gaza Affair Thomas White said at least nine people were known to have been killed, and 75 wounded – UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini fears the actual death toll could be higher, calling it "another horrific day in Gaza."
"The compound is a clearly marked UN facility and its coordinates were shared with Israeli Authorities as we do for all our facilities - once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war."
The UN strongly emphasised that the targeted compound was clearly marked, and its coordinates had been expressly shared with Israeli authorities, again highlighting Israel’s seeming to ignore international law.
US State Department spokesperson, Vedant Patel, deplored the attack, emphasising the imperative to protect civilians and respect the sanctity of UN facilities. Washington's open criticism reflects a departure from its usual approach of raising concerns ‘behind closed doors’ if at all.
Shortly after the Gaza attack, President Joe Biden was again targeted by groups of protesters on his very doorstep in Washington, yelling “ceasefire now”, and holding signs saying “full ceasefire in Gaza now”, as he left a political event.
The Israeli military, in response, claimed the strike targeted an area in Khan Younis crucial to dismantling Hamas' military framework, even acknowledging the presence of civilians, but again arguing ‘the necessity for specific tactics in the densely populated region’ outweighed the fact that refugees were sheltering in the complex.
Concerns are escalating over the gravity of the situation Israel has created in Khan Younis, where civilians are trapped without proper evacuation warnings or adequate humanitarian aid. The Israeli military's brutal actions have come under scrutiny, with reports of hospitals being cut off and besieged, hindering rescue efforts for the wounded and dead.
The unfolding events in Gaza, particularly the Israeli attack on the UN refuge, raise critical questions about adherence to international humanitarian laws. As the conflict intensifies, the global community watches even more closely, with huge concern for the safety and well-being of civilians caught in the crossfire.