The Israeli military said on Sunday that one of its tanks had ‘accidentally fired and hit an Egyptian post’ near the border with Gaza.
Scores of Palestinians were killed in central Gaza today after Israel stepped up its strikes on the war-torn enclave and another convoy of aid trucks arrived as the Hamas-run territory faces ‘catastrophic’ shortages.
The Egyptian military said the blast had caused ‘minor injuries’ but did not give details.
‘The IDF (Israeli military) expresses sorrow regarding the incident’ near the Kerem Shalom area, an army statement said.
‘The incident is being investigated and the details are under review,’ the statement added.
Smoke rises following Israeli strikes at the border with Egypt, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, as seen from Rafah, southern Gaza Strip October 22, 2023
An Israeli soldier rides in a tank (File Photo)
The Egyptian army said Israel had ‘immediately expressed its regret over the unintentional incident and an investigation is underway’.
Egyptian media said the Israeli strike would not disrupt the passage of aid to Gaza, citing witnesses.
A second convoy of 17 aid trucks entered the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on Sunday, heading towards the Gaza Strip, according to Egyptian security and humanitarian sources.
Shortly after the convoy entered the crossing, witnesses told Reuters that a blast was heard in the vicinity and that ambulances could be heard deploying from the Egyptian side.
Since Saturday, 37 trucks carrying vital supplies have crossed to Gaza through its Rafah border post with Egypt, which lies around three kilometres from Israel.
Crossings between Gaza and Israel have been shut since the outbreak of war on October 7.
The Rafah crossing, the main entry and exit point to Gaza that does not lead to Israel, has become the focus of a push to deliver aid as humanitarian conditions in Gaza worsen.
Although Egyptian media said another 40 trucks would enter Gaza on Monday, the United Nations has estimated about 100 trucks per day are needed to meet the needs of Gaza, where more than 4,650 of its 2.4 million residents have been killed in Israeli strikes, according to the Hamas government.
Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, on October 2023
The second convoy of aid trucks cross the Rafah border from the Egyptian side on October 22, 2023 in North Sinai, Egypt
Humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023
Israeli warplanes have struck targets across Gaza, two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by terrorists, as the two-week-old war with Hamas threatened to spiral into a broader conflict.
Israel has traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group since the war began, and tensions are soaring in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces have battled militants in refugee camps and carried out two airstrikes in recent days.
With tensions rising, Israel has evacuated dozens of northern communities, and nearly 4,000 people have fled villages in south Lebanon for shelter in the southern city of Tyre.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops in northern Israel that if Hezbollah launches a war, ‘it will make the mistake of its life’.
He said: ‘We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state will be devastating.’
Iran also warned about the conflict spreading on Sunday, with top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian cautioning that if Washington and Israel did not ‘immediately stop the crime against humanity and genocide in Gaza, anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control’.
Washington also fired a shot across the bows of any actors looking to inflame the conflict, saying it wouldn’t hesitate to act in the event of any ‘escalation’.
For days, Israel has seemed to be on the verge of launching a ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ deadly October 7 rampage, with tanks and troops massed at the border.
Israel’s military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said the country had increased airstrikes across Gaza to hit targets that would reduce the risk to troops in the next stage of the war.
Hamas said it fought with Israeli forces near Khan Younis in southern Gaza and destroyed a tank and two bulldozers. The Israeli military said it had no information about the claim.
Israel repeated its calls for people to leave northern Gaza, including by dropping leaflets from the air.
It estimated 700,000 already fled. But hundreds of thousands remain. That would raise the risk of mass civilian casualties in any ground offensive.
Israeli military officials say Hamas’ infrastructure and underground tunnel system are concentrated in Gaza City, in the north, and that the next stage of the offensive will include unprecedented force there.
Israel says it wants to crush Hamas. Officials have also spoken of carving out a buffer zone to keep Palestinians from approaching the border.
Hospitals packed with patients and displaced people are running low on medical supplies and fuel for generators, forcing doctors to perform surgeries with sewing needles, using vinegar as disinfectant, and without anesthesia.
The World Health Organization says at least 130 premature babies are at ‘grave risk’ because of a shortage of generator fuel. It said seven hospitals in northern Gaza have been forced to shut down due to damage from strikes, lack of power and supplies, or Israeli evacuation orders.
In this picture taken during a media tour organised by the Israeli military on October 22, 2023, Israeli soldiers take a defensive position in Kibbutz Beeri along the border with the Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers guard Kibbutz Beeri along the border with the Gaza Strip
Shortages in critical supplies, including ventilators, are forcing doctors to ration treatment, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, who works in Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital.
Dozens of patients continue to arrive and are treated in crowded, darkened corridors, as hospitals preserve electricity for intensive care units.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ Qandeel said. ‘Every day, if we receive 10 severely injured patients we have to manage with maybe three or five ICU beds available.’
Palestinians sheltering in U.N.-run schools and tent camps are running low on food and drinking dirty water.
A power blackout has crippled water and sanitation systems. OCHA said cases of chickenpox, scabies and diarrhoea are on the rise because of the lack of clean water.
Heavy airstrikes were reported across Gaza, including in the southern part of the coastal strip, where Israel has told civilians to seek refuge.
At the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, south of the evacuation line, several bodies wrapped in white shrouds were lined up outside on the ground.
Khalil al-Degran, a hospital official, said more than 90 bodies had been brought in since early Sunday, as the sound of nearby bombing echoed behind him.
He said 180 wounded people had arrived, mostly children, women and the elderly who had been displaced from other areas.
Airstrikes also smashed through the marketplace in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Witnesses said at least a dozen people were killed.
A view of rubbles as the Israeli airstrikes continue on its 16th day in Gaza City, Gaza on October 22, 2023
A picture taken from Israel’s southern city of Sderot shows smoke billowing during a Israeli strike on Gaza on October 22, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas
Palestinians inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, on October 22, 2023
A man helps a woman flee the area as others attend to a victim following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, 21 October 2023
Israel’s military has said it is striking Hamas fighters and installations, but does not target civilians. Palestinian militants have fired over 7,000 rockets at Israel, according to the military, and Hamas says it targeted Tel Aviv early on Sunday.
The war, now in its 16th day, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Sunday that the death toll in Gaza had reached at least 4,651 people, with another 14,254 people wounded in the besieged territory.
The ministry said 90 Palestinians were also killed in violence and Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank since Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on October 7. More than 1,650 others were wounded, it added.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial Hamas attack. In addition, 203 people were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, the Israeli military has said. Two Americans were released on Friday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ that Hamas was responsible, not just for its brutal rampage in southern Israel, but for the deaths of civilians in Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
‘It knew that in Israel’s necessary response, civilians would be caught in that crossfire,’ he said.
He said the terrorists were operating among the civilian population and its tunnels were buried under hospitals and schools. ‘What does anyone expect Israel to do?’ he said.
‘This is on Hamas.’
Syrian state media, meanwhile reported that Israeli airstrikes hit the international airports in the capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo, killing one person and putting the runways out of service.
Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria since the war began. Israel rarely acknowledges individual strikes, but says it acts to prevent Hezbollah and other militants from bringing in arms from Iran, which also supports Hamas.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah said six fighters were killed on Saturday, and the group’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, warned that Israel would pay a high price if it invades Gaza. Israel struck Hezbollah in response to rocket fire, the military said.
Israel also announced evacuation plans for another 14 communities near the Lebanon border.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 93 Palestinians have been killed – including eight on Sunday – in clashes with Israeli troops, arrest raids and attacks by Jewish settlers since the Hamas attacks, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Israeli forces have closed crossings into the territory and checkpoints between cities, measures they say are aimed at preventing attacks.
Israel says it has arrested more than 700 Palestinians since October 7, including 480 suspected Hamas members.
Among the dead were two killed in an airstrike on a mosque in the town of Jenin, which has seen heavy gun battles over the past year.
The Israeli military said the mosque compound belonged to Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who had carried out several attacks in recent months and were planning another.
Meanwhile, protesters hit the streets of several European capitals on Sunday with at least 10,000 people rallying in support of Israel in Berlin as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed to stamp out a resurgence of anti-Semitic incidents linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Thousands rallied in Paris to demand an end to Israel’s operation in Gaza in the first pro-Palestinian rally in the French capital that wasn’t banned on security grounds.
In central London on Sunday, hundreds of people attended a ‘solidarity rally’ in Trafalgar Square calling for the safe return of hostages by Hamas.
Family members of those taken hostage spoke at the rally, as the Chief Rabbi, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, thanked the King, the Prince of Wales, and cross-party political leaders for their support in wake of Hamas’ attack.