IDF says it’s investigating Red Cross claims strike hit Gaza office, killed 22

Army says it did not target facility, but does not rule out attack; Red Cross doesn’t specify who carried out shelling in area of tent camp as Hamas blames Israel

Illustrative: Smoke from an Israeli strike billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians who left Rafah toward Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Bashar Taleb/AFP)
Illustrative: Smoke from an Israeli strike billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians who left Rafah toward Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip. (Bashar Taleb/AFP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said 22 people were killed in a shell attack Friday that damaged its office in the Gaza Strip, which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced persons living in tents.

The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy caliber projectiles” but in a statement on social media platform X said the shells “damaged the structure of the ICRC office.”

It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties.”

“There was no direct attack carried out by the IDF against a Red Cross facility,” the military said in the statement. But it added that “the incident will be quickly examined and its findings will be presented to our international partners.”

It did not rule out that one of its strikes had erroneously hit the area. Earlier in the day, an army spokesman had said there was “no indication” the attack was launched by the army.

“The IDF makes significant efforts to avoid harming workers, UN facilities and international organizations working in the Gaza Strip,” it said. “The IDF is committed to enabling the activity and safe movement of international organizations.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said there were 25 dead and 50 injured in the shelling which it blamed on Israel. The ministry said Israeli shelling had “targeted the tents of the displaced in the Al-Mawasi area” which is around the ICRC base. Its information and figures could not be verified.

Illustrative: A delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) inspects a makeshift displacement camp in Rafah’s Al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip on May 29, 2024. (Bashar Taleb/AFP)

The ICRC said: “Heavy-caliber projectiles landed within meters of the office and residences of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon.”

“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures, of whose locations the parties to the conflict are aware and which are clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, puts the lives of civilians and Red Cross staff at risk,” the body added.

“This grave security incident is one of several in recent days,” it added.

“Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures. We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell called for a probe into the deadly shelling. “The EU condemns the shelling which damaged the ICRC office in Gaza and led to dozens of casualties. An independent investigation is needed and those responsible must be held accountable,” Borrell wrote on the social media platform X.

Al-Mawasi is west of Rafah, where residents on Friday said the IDF appeared to be trying to complete its capture of the southern Gaza city, which borders Egypt and has been the focus of an Israeli offensive since early May.

The military said its forces were conducting “precise, intelligence-based” actions in the Rafah area, where troops were involved in close-quarter combat and had located tunnels used by terror groups.

IDF soldiers seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released on June 21, 2024. (IDF)

Fighting also continued in central Gaza, where the IDF’s elite Multi-Domain, or Ghost, Unit recently wrapped up a raid at a university which the military said was used as a Hamas command center.

The IDF said Hamas operatives had opened fire at troops from the university complex.

The soldiers located a cache of weapons and barrels packed with explosives at the university, the military added.

Weapons the IDF says were found by troops at a university in the central Gaza Strip, in a handout photo published June 21, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also in central Gaza, the military said three rockets were launched from the Nuseirat camp at southern Israel, setting off sirens in the border community of Re’im.

The projectiles landed in an open area, with no reports of injuries or damage.

Meanwhile, shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell that mistakenly struck southern Israel on Friday instead of a target in Gaza reportedly damaged a vehicle.

According to the IDF, the tank shell, due to an error that was under investigation, deviated from its course and impacted near the border fence in Israel, instead of against the target in Gaza.

There were no injuries in the incident.

The IDF said it received reports that shrapnel from the shell damaged a vehicle in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

Illustrative: Israeli tanks are seen in the Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, June 4, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Earlier Friday, the army announced two reservists were killed in a Hamas mortar attack in the central Gaza Strip, raising the death toll in the ground offensive against Hamas and in operations on the Gaza border to 314. The toll includes a police officer killed in a hostage rescue mission. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

War erupted when Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities on October 7, murdering some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 251 hostages to Gaza.

There are thought to be 120 hostages still held in Gaza, 116 of whom were kidnapped on October 7, in addition to two civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held there for nearly a decade.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 37,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far. The toll, which cannot be verified and does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, is thought to include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Most Popular
read more: