More than 50 people killed or missing in Israeli strikes on central Gaza, local officials say

Fifty-two people have been killed or left missing in Israeli strikes near Gaza city on Saturday, according to the Hamas-controlled Government Media Office (GMO).

The GMO said that 38 bodies had arrived at Al Ahli Baptist Hospital and 14 people are still missing under the rubble of homes and buildings. Video from two of the areas targeted shows extensive destruction and multiple casualties after large explosions.

The Civil Defense Directorate said that a number of people remained under the rubble after Israeli aircraft targeted a house near the Batsh cemetery in the Al Tuffah neighborhood, which is east of Gaza City.

Another strike was reported against a residential block in Al Shati, another neighborhood near Gaza City.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in a brief statement Saturday, said that IDF fighter jets had struck “Hamas military infrastructure” sites in the area of Gaza City.

The IDF did not specify where the strikes had taken place. CNN is seeking more details.

A medical rescue worker in the area told CNN that the airstrike at Al Shati camp felt like an “earthquake.”

“There has been a targeting of Al Shati camp near Al Sousi Mosque, which was like an earthquake hitting a whole residential block.

“There are entire families under the destroyed houses.”

Local resident Abu Mahmoud Al-Karir said: “Just a while ago, people were acting normally, some were buying goods, others were at home.

“Then the occupation’s planes came and bombed this residential block. As you can see, an entire block has been obliterated. Tall buildings were leveled to the ground, now buried under the earth.”

It comes after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said at least 22 people were killed in a strike that hit civilians sheltering in southern Gaza on Friday.

Palestinians search for casualties in Gaza City. - Ayman Al Hassi/Reuters
Palestinians search for casualties in Gaza City. - Ayman Al Hassi/Reuters

The strike hit the tents of displaced people in the Palestinian town of Mawasi, parts of which have been identified by the Israeli military as a humanitarian zone.

The ICRC said Friday that its office adjacent to the humanitarian area in Mawasi was damaged by nearby shelling. It did not attribute blame for the shelling, but said that “firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures puts the lives of civilians and humanitarians at risk.”

It said “heavy-caliber projectiles” had landed within meters of the facility and the nearby Red Cross field hospital had received 22 bodies and 45 injured.

The IDF said Saturday that it was examining the incident. “Following an initial inquiry, there was no direct attack carried out by the IDF against a Red Cross facility. The incident will be quickly examined and its findings will be presented to our international partners.”

Israel has been intensifying its operation in nearby Rafah, where it launched an offensive last month as part of its campaign to dismantle Hamas in Gaza. A Gazan official said Israel’s military was pushing deeper into Rafah and was nearing the coast.

The total number of deaths in the Gaza Strip since October 7 now stands at 37,551, with 85,911 injuries, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza following the Hamas attacks of October 7, which killed around 1,200 people.

Israel drops hostage flyers

Also on Saturday, the Israeli military dropped at least two different leaflets with the names and photos of hostages over various locations in the Gaza Strip.

Leaflets were dropped in the Al-Zeitoun and Al-Sabra neighborhoods of Gaza City as well as in the city of Khan Younis in the south of the Strip, according to Palestinians in Gaza who spoke about the flyers on social media. The Israeli military said flyers had been dropped “throughout the Gaza Strip.”

“Look around you carefully… the hostages may be next to you,” the flyers read in Arabic.

“If you want to preserve your families, do not hesitate to provide us with any information regarding the hostages or their kidnappers,” they add.

The flyers dropped in Gaza City were different from those dropped in Khan Younis, displaying different hostages. In total, 62 hostages were shown on the flyers.

CNN identified the photographs of six hostages who had previously been declared dead by Israel on the flyers. Four were kidnapped in Hamas’ October 7, 2023 attack on southern Israel. CNN identified the other two hostages as Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped prior to the October 7 attack. They are believed to be deceased.

It’s unclear why photos of hostages who are believed to be dead are included among the images on the leaflets. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The IDF said Saturday it had dropped flyers “throughout the Gaza Strip as part of the ongoing intelligence efforts to return the hostages.”

An Israeli security official told CNN that the families of the hostages listed on the flyers had been notified in advance of Saturday’s drop. The official said the “selection of the photos stems from various considerations that cannot be detailed.”

This is a developing story and will be updated. Khader Al-Za’anoun of Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, contributed to this story.

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