GAZA CITY — Four Palestinians from the same extended family were killed, and around 30 more people were wounded on Thursday, after ordnance exploded in Gaza as residents cleared rubble from the war with Israel last summer.
The death toll made it one of the deadliest episodes since the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. It was not immediately whether the ordnance was left behind by Israeli, or by Palestinian forces.
The explosion in a crowded refugee camp in the southern Gaza city of Rafah occurred when the Abu Naqeira family were clearing the ruins of their home, which was a target during the conflict, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan.
The four men killed in the blast were all from the Abu Naqeira family, including a father and his son, residents said. The explosion shook neighborhoods in Rafah and damaged or destroyed at least 10 surrounding houses, said Hani al-Shaer, who identified himself as a witness.
Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, said the death toll was likely to rise, citing the serious injuries of some of the wounded.
It was not immediately clear if the family knew that there was unexploded ordnance in the rubble, or if any specialists were supervising the clearing.
One resident living nearby reported hearing a series of explosions, and said that the blasts might have been caused by rockets stored by Hamas militants. He gave his name as Abu Khalil, fearing to be identified as criticizing the militant group.
Last year, six people, including an Associated Press video journalist and a Palestinian translator, were killed when Gaza police engineers tried to defuse unexploded Israeli ordnance.