An Israeli Strike Kills the Mayor

From the NYTimes, June 8, 2024

Hours after an Israeli airstrike killed dozens of people at a school complex-turned-mass shelter on Thursday, the military continued its bombardment of central Gaza with a strike on a city hall in the same town.

Palestinian media and the Hamas-run government media office said the strike on the Nuseirat city hall killed at least five civilians, and video shared by Palestinian media showed numerous bodies laid on the floor of a morgue, including some who appeared to be children.

Among those killed was the local mayor, Iyad al-Maghari, whose position made him part of Hamas’s governance structure in the enclave. Mr. al-Maghari was providing municipal services to both residents and displaced people, the Gaza government said. The Israeli military said he was a “terrorist operative” with a long history in the armed group.

The attack on the school complex, where thousands of Palestinians were sheltering, killed dozens, including at least nine women and 18 children, according to an official at the morgue at a nearby hospital.

The Israeli military defended that strike, saying it had targeted a group of militants using three former classrooms as a base, but the U.N. Human Rights Office said the casualties suggested a failure of the Israeli military to ensure strict compliance with international humanitarian law.

The U.N.’s office of humanitarian affairs reported that Israeli bombardments from the air, land and sea continued across much of Gaza on Friday, killing people and destroying homes. The Gaza Health Ministry reported Friday that 77 people had been killed in Israeli strikes over the previous 24 hours.

Nuseirat lies in an area where tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians in Gaza have fled to escape fighting over the eight months of Israel’s war in Gaza, and their numbers have swelled in recent weeks after the Israeli military invaded the southern city of Rafah, forcing another mass exodus of civilians.

The Gaza government office accused Israel of intentionally assassinating the mayor, Iyad al-Maghari, to sow chaos and deepen the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territory. Most of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents have been displaced, and nearly all rely on international aid. Mr. al-Maghari had refused to abandon his job as town mayor and was helping to provide municipal services to Nuseirat residents and people who had been displaced there, the government said.