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Israeli strikes in Rafah kill at least 22 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 yesterday at 10:40 p.m. Updated at 9:22 a.m.

  • Middle East

Israeli strikes on the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday, as the United States was on track to approve billions of dollars in additional military aid to their close ally.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents have sought refuge from the fighting. Israel expanded its ground offensive to the town on the border with Egypt, despite international calls for restraint, including from the United States.

In Washington, the House of Representatives on Saturday approved a US$26 billion aid package, which includes approximately $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The first strike in recent hours on Rafah killed a man, his wife and their 3-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti hospital, which received the bodies. The woman was pregnant and doctors managed to save the baby, the hospital said.

The second Israeli strike killed 13 children and two women, from the same family, according to hospital records. An airstrike in Rafah the night before killed nine people, including six children.

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High tensions in the region

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry. The Israeli offensive, in response to the deadly October 7 attack in Israel, devastated Gaza's two largest cities and left a swath of destruction across the territory. About 80 percent of the population has fled their homes to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave, which experts say is on the brink of famine.

The conflict, now in its seventh month, has sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the United States against Iran and allied militant groups in the Middle East. Israel and Iran exchanged fire earlier this month, raising fears of all-out war between the longtime foes.

Tensions have also increased in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli troops on Sunday killed two Palestinians who the army said attacked a checkpoint with a knife and gun near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the two men killed were aged 18 and 19, from the same family. No Israeli forces were injured, according to the army.

The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service, for its part, recovered 14 bodies after an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams urban refugee camp in the West Bank which began Thursday evening. Among those killed were three militants from the Islamic Jihad group and a 15-year-old boy. The army says it killed 10 Hamas fighters in the camp and arrested eight suspects. Nine Israeli soldiers and officers were injured.

In a separate incident in the West Bank, an Israeli man was injured in an explosion on Sunday, the Magen David Adom rescue service said. A video circulating online shows a man approaching a Palestinian flag that had been planted in a field. It appears to trigger an explosive device.

The war in Gaza was sparked by an unprecedented Hamas raid in southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas fighters had kidnapped 250 people. Hostages have been freed, but Israel maintains that Hamas still holds around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand new elections to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reach a deal with Hamas to free the hostages. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are released.

The war has killed at least 34,049 Palestinians and injured 76,901 others, according to Gaza's health ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count, but maintains that at least two-thirds are children and women.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because its militants fight in dense residential neighborhoods. The army claims to have killed more than 13,000 Hamas fighters, without providing proof.

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