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War on Gaza: At least 70 Palestinians killed in Israeli attack on Gaza refugee camp

The Maghazi camp in central Gaza, which Palestinian officials say was 'completely residential', was targeted overnight on Sunday
An aerial view shows Palestinians mourning their relatives on 25 December 2023 after an Israeli strike targeted the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza (AFP)

At least 70 Palestinians were killed on Christmas Eve on Sunday evening when an Israeli air strike targeted the Maghazi refugee camp in Central Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the death toll was likely to rise as civilians remained trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

Israel has previously bombed the camp, but the attack on Sunday was described as one of the "deadliest" since the start of the conflict in early October.

The bombing of the camp started just before midnight on Christmas Eve and continued into Christmas Day.

According to early estimates, the death toll includes at least 12 women and seven children.

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Ashraf al-Qudra, a health ministry spokesperson, said the air strikes targeted a completely residential civilian area.

"What is happening at the Maghazi camp is a massacre that is being committed on a crowded residential square," he said. 

According to Al Jazeera, roads destroyed in previous attacks prevented emergency services and civil defence crews from reaching the wounded. 

The air strikes caused widespread destruction, obliterating residential towers. A spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was "reviewing the incident".

 "Despite the challenges posed by Hamas terrorists operating within civilian areas in Gaza, the IDF [Israeli army] is committed to international law including taking feasible steps to minimise harm to civilians," an army spokesperson said. 

Bodies piling up

Following the attack, bodies piled up at al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital, while the number of wounded also continued to rise. 

The hospital has largely been rendered non-functional due to continuous Israeli attacks and fuel and electricity depletion caused by Israel's siege of Gaza, which intensified after 7 October. 

According to Al Jazeera's Tareq Abu Azzoum, the camp is one of the most densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, and it is also an area that the Israeli military has told people to evacuate to.

"Now the camp has been completely flattened," he said.

"One of the casualties includes a two-week-old baby who has been killed in cold blood in this genocide," he said.

The Hamas movement called the attack "a horrific massacre" and an example of an Israeli "war crime".

Last month, an Israeli attack on Maghazi resulted in the killing of at least 50 Palestinians. 

The camp has additionally been shelled in the past few days, according to Al Jazeera. 

The war on Gaza started after a Hamas-led attack on Israel on 7 October resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people in southern Israel.

The Israeli military has killed more than 20,000 Palestinians in attacks since then, most of them children and women.

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