Israeli airstrike kills Gaza mayor at water pumping station

Israeli army claims it was aware of his death, saying he was a Hamas operative

AFP June 08, 2024
People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital where hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast, in Gaza City, October 18. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

A spokesman for the Nuseirat municipality in central Gaza said Friday that the town’s mayor, Iyad al-Maghari, had been killed in an Israeli strike while visiting a water pumping station.

Maghari had been at the water management facility that serves Nuseirat when an air strike hit it at around 10:30 pm local time on Thursday, spokesman Muhammad al-Salhi told AFP at the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital, where mourners gathered ahead of the funeral.

“We were surprised by a treacherous and cowardly attack on the mayor inside the plant, which led to the martyrdom of the mayor, Dr Iyad Al-Maghari, and four members of his family,” Salhi said.

The Israeli army said it was aware of reports that Maghari had been killed in the strike and said he was a Hamas operative.

AFP journalists at the water station on Friday said the facility was in tatters, with concrete strewn about, electrical equipment torn apart, and bloodstains on the ground.

Workers were assessing the damage to the large pipes that transport water to Nuseirat’s residents.

One resident, Ibrahim al-Hur, told AFP: “We heard several explosions, and we were surprised that the explosions were right next to us, in the nearby water station.”

“With just one missile, look what happened,” he said, pointing to the demolished wall of the station behind him.

At the hospital, the mayor’s body was wrapped in a white sheet adorned with a high-visibility vest, before it was loaded onto an ambulance on a stretcher.

The Nuseirat municipality said it mourned “its mayor, who chose to fulfil his duty with dedication and devotion to serve our people in Nuseirat until his last moments”.

The Hamas-run government media office said in a statement Maghari was “sincere and devoted to his work, serving his people and homeland”.

The war broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,731 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The violence has left much of Gaza in ruins, and an Israeli siege on the territory has led to dire shortages of clean water and other basic needs.


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