Palestinian Medics Report 22 Killed in Israeli Airstrike on Rafah

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DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian medics reported that an Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Sunday killed 22 people. The strike targeted tents housing displaced individuals.

Details regarding the target were scarce, but footage from the scene displayed significant destruction. The Israeli army stated they had no awareness of any incidents in the area.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society indicated that the death toll might rise as search and rescue operations persisted in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, located west of the city center.

Palestinian Medics Report 22 Killed in Israeli Airstrike on Rafah
Palestinians displaced by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip walk through a makeshift tent camp in Rafah, Gaza, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

The society stated that Israel had previously designated the area as a “humanitarian area.”

The strike occurred just two days following an International Court of Justice order for Israel to cease its military operations in Rafah.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, was in Rafah on Sunday and received a briefing on the “deepening of operations” there, according to his office.

The airstrike followed a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas, which triggered air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months, demonstrating resilience more than seven months into Israel’s heavy air, sea, and ground offensive.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for the attack. Palestinian militants have intermittently fired rockets and mortars at communities along the Gaza border, and later on Sunday, the military arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group announced that it had fired rockets at nearby communities.

The Israeli military stated that eight projectiles were launched into Israel from Rafah, where Israeli forces had initiated an incursion. A “number” of these projectiles were intercepted, and military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed the destruction of the launcher in Rafah.

Earlier on Sunday, aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new arrangement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt, after Israeli forces captured its Palestinian side earlier this month. However, it wasn’t immediately clear if humanitarian organizations could access the aid due to ongoing combat.

Egypt is unwilling to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side reverts to Palestinians. Consequently, it temporarily redirected traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s primary cargo terminal, following a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

Nevertheless, the Kerem Shalom crossing has been largely unusable because of Israel’s offensive in Rafah. Although Israel claims to have permitted hundreds of trucks to enter, U.N. agencies report that retrieving the aid is usually too dangerous.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in nearly 36,000 Palestinian deaths, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its tally. The Health Ministry stated that 81 bodies from Israeli strikes had been brought to hospitals in the past 24 hours. Israel attributes civilian casualties to Hamas, accusing militants of operating within dense, residential zones.

With around 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents having fled their homes, severe hunger is rampant, and U.N. officials report that parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Hamas instigated the conflict with its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, during which Palestinian militants killed approximately 1,200 people, predominantly civilians, and took about 250 hostages. Hamas still holds around 100 hostages and the remains of approximately 30 others, following the release of most during a ceasefire last year.

The conflict has also exacerbated tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian authorities reported on Sunday that Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the southern West Bank town of Saeer. The Israeli army did not provide a comment.

Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City.

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