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Israeli airstrike in Rafah kills at least nine people

Photo: Agence France-Presse A woman cries as she sees the body of a relative killed in an Israeli bombardment in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, April 20, 2024.

Samy Magdy – Associated Press to Rafah

Published at 10:40 p.m.

  • Middle East

An Israeli airstrike on a house in Rafah, Gaza's southernmost town, killed at least nine people, including six children, hospital authorities said Saturday, as Israel continued its nearly seven-month offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Israel's war against the Islamic militant group Hamas has led to a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and Iran in recent weeks. Attention now turns to Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population, about 2.3 million people, are sheltering, many of them displaced by the fighting.

At al-Najjar hospital, relatives sobbed and hugged the children's swaddled bodies.

The victims included Abdel-Fattah Sobhi Radwan, his wife Najlaa Ahmed Aweidah and their three children, said his brother-in-law Ahmed Barhoum. Mr. Barhoum lost his wife, Rawan Radwan, and their five-year-old daughter, Alaa.

“It’s a world devoid of all human and moral values,” Mr. Barhoum told the Associated Press (AP), crying as he cradled Alaa’s body. The only martyrs are women and children. »

Israel has insisted for months that it intends to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, where it says many Hamas militants are hiding, despite calls for restraint from the international community, including by the United States, Israel's most faithful ally.

Some Palestinians left an area of ​​Rafah, near the border with Egypt, on Saturday after receiving an evacuation alert from the Israeli army. A few minutes later, a strike took place. It was not immediately known if anyone had been killed.

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Also on Saturday, an Israeli airstrike hit a house in the Bureji urban refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least one man and wounding two others, according to Gaza authorities. al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where an AP journalist saw the victims.

The war was sparked by an unprecedented October 7 raid in southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups that left around 1,200 people dead, the vast majority civilians, and saw around 250 people captured and taken to Gaza. Israel says about 130 hostages remain in Gaza, although more than 30 are dead.

Frustration persists among many people in Israel, and thousands of anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv have again called for new elections and a deal to free the remaining hostages. “We don't know what to do anymore, so we're here screaming and screaming for help,” said protester Iris Milnar.

High tensions in the region

The Palestinian death toll from the war stands at at least 34,049 dead, with 76,901 wounded, Gaza's health ministry said, adding that the bodies of 37 people killed by Israeli strikes were taken to hospitals in in the last 24 hours. Hamas-led health authorities do not differentiate between fighters and civilians, but say at least two-thirds of the victims are children and women.

Israel accuses Hamas of being responsible for civilian casualties, saying it is establishing itself among the population.

The war has increased regional tensions. Israel and its archenemy Iran on Friday downplayed an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran, signaling they were withdrawing from what would have could become an all-out war. A week ago, Iran fired an unprecedented barrage of missiles at Israel after a suspected Israeli strike killed two Iranian generals at an Iranian consulate in Syria.

Israel continues to clash with Iran's proxies, frequently trading rocket and drone attacks across the Lebanese-Israeli border with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group. Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched strikes against merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in what they call solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Tensions are also high in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 12 bodies were removed from the Nur Sham urban refugee camp on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 13 since an Israeli military operation began in the area Thursday evening. He claimed they were killed “as a result of the occupation’s aggression.”

The Islamic Jihad militant group has confirmed the deaths of three members. Another person killed was a 15-year-old boy. The Israeli military maintained that its forces killed 10 militants in and around the camp, while eight suspects were arrested. Nine of its officers and soldiers were injured, she said.

At least 469 Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been killed by Israeli fire since October, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the ministry said an ambulance driver was shot dead near the town of Sawiya while trying to reach Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli settlers . The Palestinian Red Crescent said Mohammed Musa was shot in the chest. A wave of settler attacks began a week ago after the disappearance of an Israeli teenager who was found dead.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116