Israel kills dozens in Rafah airstrike



In the southern area of Gaza, Rafah, Israel conducted air strikes, resulting in conflicting reports on the death toll, with health officials, indicating dozens of casualties. The predawn strikes targeted residential areas, including 14 houses and three mosques, leading to varying estimates of the number of casualties. Reuters stated at least 67 fatalities, and Al Jazeera suggested a higher toll. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians, emphasising concerns about the catastrophic consequences of expanding the conflict to densely populated areas.

According to Israel’s military, the air strikes focused on “terror targets” in Rafah’s Shaboura district, and the operation had concluded. Additionally, they have reported the rescue of two captives, Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har, held by Hamas since October 7. Despite Hamas warning that an Israeli ground assault in Rafah could jeopardise negotiations for the release of remaining captives, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to persist with the offensive, emphasising the need for continued military pressure until achieving complete victory.

The strikes on Rafah occur amid heightened tensions, with Israel gearing up for a major offensive that raises concerns among aid agencies about significant civilian casualties in one of Gaza’s last relatively safe areas. Approximately 1.4 million Palestinians, over half of Gaza’s population, have sought refuge in Rafah to escape widespread Israeli bombardment that has left much of the enclave in ruins.