Middle East

At least 35 dead from Israeli strikes on Gaza after Hamas launches rockets at Tel Aviv

At least 35 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a city in the southern area of Gaza, Palestinian authorities have said.

The health ministry said that most of those killed and injured in Rafah had been women and children, in an area where thousands of people had been taking shelter after being instructed to take refuge in the southern region of the besieged enclave.

The Israeli military said its air force struck a Hamas compound and that the strike was carried with “precise ammunition and on the basis of precise intelligence”.

It added: “The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review.”

At least 35 have been killed including women and children
At least 35 have been killed including women and children (Reuters)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its field hospital in Rafah was receiving an influx of casualties, and that other hospitals also were taking in a large number of patients.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri described the attack in Rafah as a “massacre”, holding the United States responsible for aiding Israel with weapons and money.

“The air strikes burnt the tents, the tents are melting and the people’s bodies are also melting,” said one of the residents who arrived at the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah.

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said eight projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip where Israel kept up operations despite a ruling by the top UN court on Friday ordering it to stop attacking the city.

A number of the projectiles were intercepted, it said. There were no reports of casualties.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his war cabinet later on Sunday to discuss continued operations in Rafah. Israel argues the UN court’s ruling allows room for some military action there.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades said the rockets were launched in response to “Zionist massacres against civilians”.

Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip wait near the Rafah border on Sunday
Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip wait near the Rafah border on Sunday (AFP via Getty Images)

Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area, but its assault has worsened the plight of civilians and caused an international outcry.

On Sunday, Israeli strikes killed at least five Palestinians in Rafah, according to local medical services. The Gaza health ministry identified the dead as civilians.

Israeli tanks have probed around the edges of Rafah near the crossing point from Gaza into Egypt, and residents say they have entered some of its eastern districts, but have not yet entered the city in force since the start of operations in the city earlier this month.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said the rockets fired from Rafah “prove that the [IDF] must operate in every place Hamas still operates from”.

Defence minister Yoav Gallant held an operational assessment in Rafah where he was briefed on “troops’ operations above and below the ground, as well as the deepening of operations in additional areas with the aim of dismantling Hamas battalions”, his office said in a statement.

Itamar Ben Gvir, a hardline public security minister who is not part of Israel’s war cabinet, urged the army to hit Rafah harder. “Rafah with full force,” he posted on X.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive, Gaza’s health ministry says. Israel launched the operation after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Fighting also continued in the northern Gaza area of Jabaliya, the scene of intense combat earlier in the war. During one raid, the military said it found a weapons storage site with dozens of rocket parts and weapons at a school.


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