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International Committee of the Red Cross Office in Gaza Damaged by Shelling, Killing 22 People

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The recent shelling in Gaza has caused significant damage to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), leading to the tragic deaths of 22 individuals seeking shelter around the ICRC compound. The ICRC reported that heavy-calibre projectiles landed perilously close to their office and residences on Friday afternoon, emphasizing the imperative for all parties involved to take necessary precautions to prevent harm to civilians and humanitarian facilities.

Notably, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that their initial inquiry found no direct attack by the IDF on the Red Cross facility. They have pledged to swiftly examine the incident and present their findings. In response, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, condemned the attack, urging for an independent investigation and advocating for accountability for those responsible.

The ICRC further highlighted the extensive impact of the shelling, revealing that the structure of their office was impaired, with numerous displaced civilians, including Palestinian colleagues, residing in surrounding tents. The aftermath of the incident resulted in a high influx of casualties at the nearby Red Cross Field Hospital, with 22 individuals reported as killed and 45 others injured.

Expressing concern over the escalating security incidents, the ICRC deplored the dangers posed to the lives of humanitarian workers and civilians. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza provided conflicting figures, attributing the shelling to Israel and reporting a higher casualty count.

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William Schomburg, the head of the ICRC office in Rafah, described the harrowing aftermath of the attack, depicting scenes of incomprehensible devastation and an overwhelming influx of severely wounded individuals, including women and children. The Red Cross field hospital mobilized dedicated teams to provide urgent medical care to those affected by the conflict, underscoring the critical need for accessible healthcare amid the ongoing hostilities.

In a broader context, the Israeli military’s retaliatory campaign following an attack on southern Israel in early October has resulted in a staggering death toll in Gaza, predominantly comprising civilian casualties. The escalating hostilities between Israel and the Lebanese Islamist movement Hezbollah have raised grave concerns, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned against the potential catastrophic consequences for the region and beyond. Urging an immediate de-escalation, Guterres emphasized the global stakes, stressing that Lebanon must not become “another Gaza.”

Amid the backdrop of retaliatory strikes between Israel and Hezbollah, the situation serves as a poignant reminder of the profound humanitarian impact of conflict and the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation and mitigate the devastating toll on civilian lives.

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