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'Horrific Massacre': IDF Kills 200+ Palestinians Rescuing 4 Hostages

"It's a nightmare at Al-Aqsa," said Samuel Johann, MSF coordinator in Gaza. "How many more men, women, and children have to be killed before world leaders decide to put an end to this massacre?"

Scene from the aftermath of the attack -- image via the Palestinian People's Party


By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams


Palestinian officials said at least 210 people were killed and more than 400 injured as the Israel Defense Forces conducted an operation in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday to rescue four of over 240 hostages taken by Hamas militants last year.


Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv—all attendees or security guards at a music festival that Palestinian militants attacked on October 7—from two locations in Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp, according to the IDF. There are 116 hostages still being held in the Hamas-governed enclave, and at least 41 are believed to be dead.


Abu Obaida, a spokesperson for Hamas' military wing, said Saturday that "the enemy succeeded in releasing some of its hostages by committing horrific massacres, but at the same time, killed some of them during the operation."


CNN reported that spokespeople for Israel's police and military said an Israeli policeman from a counterterrorism unit was killed and estimated casualties from the operation at "under 100." The outlet also noted the higher death toll cited by Gaza officials and spoke with witnesses—including Abu Abdallah, who said that "dogs were eating people's remains. We pulled out six martyrs, all torn-up children and women, we risked our lives to get them to the hospital."


As The Associated Press detailed:


The bodies of 109 Palestinians including 23 children and 11 women were taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where spokesperson Khalil Degran told The Associated Press more than 100 wounded also arrived. He said that overall, 210 dead had been taken there and to Al-Awda Hospital, saying he had spoken to the director there. Al-Awda's numbers couldn't immediately be confirmed.
AP reporters saw dozens of bodies brought from the Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah areas, as smoke rose in the distance and armored vehicles rolled by.
A baby was among the dead. Small children wailed, covered in blood. Bodies were placed on the ground outside, their feet bare, as more wounded were rushed in.

"It's a nightmare at Al-Aqsa," said Samuel Johann, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) coordinator in Gaza, in a statement. "There have been back-to-back mass casualties as densely populated areas are bombed. It's way beyond what anyone could deal with in a functional hospital, let alone with the scarce resources we have here."


In addition to killing more than 36,800 Palestinians and wounding over 83,600—according to Gaza officials—the IDF's eight-month retaliation for the October 7 attack has devastated civilian infrastructure across the besieged coastal enclave, including hospitals.


"How many more men, women, and children have to be killed before world leaders decide to put an end to this massacre?" Johann asked amid cease-fire and hostage negotiations mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States—which has provided weapons and diplomatic support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war, despite nationwide protests, including on Saturday.


Karin Huster, an MSF medical referent, shared an audio recording about her experience at Al-Aqsa's emergency department Saturday afternoon: "Total chaos inside; the entire emergency room... was completely packed with patients on the floor coming from the bombings in Nuseirat. There were hundreds of patients, and we did whatever we could to stabilize them... And, thank God we were able to refer a bunch of patients to Nasser Hospital as well as IMC Field Hospital that is not far away from here."


"Despite the fact that the place was completely overwhelmed, it did an amazing job," Huster continued. "There is nothing, nothing at all that justifies what I saw today. Nothing. These children—the 3-month-old, the 7-year-old, the 12-year-old that died—the 25-year-old man, the 78-year-old woman, who all have horrendous injuries. Why did they deserve this? And why is the world looking on in silence? ...To what level of horror do we need to go before we finally do something, before we finally tell Israel that this is not acceptable?"



Chris Hook, MSF medical referent at Nasser Hospital, shared an audio update from there, saying that "we've received, coming close now to about 50 badly injured patients. There's people with multiple major open fractures of their limbs. We've got several unconscious children who are trying to be escorted through CT scan and on to intensive care."


"A few very bad burns have come through, and already four or five people who've required chest tube insertion, and things like this, for major injuries to the chest," he said, explaining that the hospital has a limited ability to perform CT scans, a shortage of pain killers, and a full intensive care unit. "More patients are arriving. It's a serious mass casualty incident that is occurring right now."


Council on American–Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement Saturday that "we strongly condemn the Israeli government's horrific massacre at Nuseirat refugee camp, where Israeli forces, some hidden in a humanitarian aid truck, reportedly slaughtered at least 200 Palestinian civilians while freeing four Israeli hostages who could have and should have been safely released months ago as part of a cease-fire agreement that Benjamin Netanyahu keeps torpedoing so that he can continue the genocide and stay in office."


"The Biden administration must be transparent about any U.S. involvement in this massacre and whether any Americans were in the units that carried it out," Awad added. "The administration also must stop funding these daily incidents of mass slaughter and instead use American leverage to stop the genocide, free all hostages and political prisoners, and end the illegal occupation of Palestine that lies at the root of the violence."


Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.


This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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