Aid group says its facility was hit by Israeli airstrike in Gaza

A facility where the International Rescue Committee’s emergency medical team was residing in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike Jan. 18, the organization said Tuesday.

No one was killed, but the strike injured several staff members, damaged the building and forced IRC to move six other staffers from Gaza, the group said in a statement.

An independent United Nations assessment concluded “the damage was the result of an airstrike, most likely involving a GBU32 (MK83) missile package,” IRC said.

“The Israeli military is the only armed actor in Gaza with access to this weaponry,” the statement said. Members of Medical Aid for Palestinians, an organization providing medical services, such as surgeries, in Gaza were also residing in the facility.

The hit on the health facility is likely to raise more questions about the process Israel relies on to avoid hitting aid organizations or hospitals during military operations.

IRC, like other aid organizations working in the enclave, said it had sent its GPS coordinates to “the deconfliction process” – a system that allows for Israel to collect the coordinates of aid organizations to ensure it does not incidentally hit them during the fighting. IRC said the British government had also confirmed on Dec. 22 that the compound was registered as a “sensitive site.”

It’s a patchwork system that aid groups say has not worked in the current environment in Gaza.

Other aid organizations working in Gaza have said that despite sending their coordinates directly to Israel and the United Nations, their facilities and staff continue to come under bombardment. The situation has forced some of those organizations to find other ways to try to protect their staff, including sending their locations to U.S. congressional offices to pass on the coordinates to their contacts in Israel.

The U.S. and the United Nations have urgently tried to improve the system in recent weeks in an effort to limit civilian casualties and protect aid groups.

Senior Biden officials have said that they are working with Israel to create safe spaces for Gazans to flee to and where they can access aid.