Israeli Airstrike in Gaza's Rafah Leaves 35 Dead Amid Renewed Conflict with Hamas
Israeli Airstrike in Gaza's Rafah Leaves 35 Dead Amid Renewed Conflict with Hamas

Israeli Airstrike in Rafah Kills 35 After Hamas Rocket Attack - An Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza, has killed at least 35 people, Palestinian medics report. This attack followed a barrage of rockets launched by Hamas at Tel Aviv, marking the first such attack in months.

Footage from Rafah shows significant destruction. The Israeli military stated that the airstrike targeted a Hamas compound using precise ammunition based on accurate intelligence. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported the elimination of Hamas' chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official. The IDF acknowledged civilian casualties in the area and stated that the incident is under review.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant visited Rafah on Sunday to be briefed on the ongoing operations.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society indicated that the death toll could rise as search and rescue efforts continued in Rafah's Tal al-Sultan neighborhood. The area was previously designated by Israel as a "humanitarian area" and was not part of the evacuation orders.

The Red Cross reported an influx of casualties at its field hospital in Rafah, with other hospitals also overwhelmed with patients.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the attack as a "massacre," blaming the United States for supporting Israel with weapons and funds.

This incident occurred shortly after air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and central Israel, responding to eight rockets fired from Rafah. While most rockets were intercepted, two women suffered minor injuries while seeking shelter, and several flights from Ben Gurion Airport were delayed or canceled.

Hamas's military wing claimed responsibility for the rocket launch, stating it was in retaliation for "Zionist massacres against civilians." Earlier on Sunday, Israeli airstrikes in Rafah resulted in at least five Palestinian deaths.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reacted to the attack with a call for increased force against Rafah on social media.

On Sunday, the IDF also denied claims that an Israeli soldier had been abducted by Hamas, following a video released by the militant group showing fighters dragging an unconscious soldier through a tunnel.

Israel continues its offensive in southern Gaza despite a United Nations order to halt the assault, citing a worsening humanitarian crisis. Rafah remains the only area in Gaza without ground fighting, with more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents seeking refuge there.

Israel argues that a ground operation in Rafah is necessary to defeat Hamas, believed to be using hostages as human shields. The fighting has halted essential aid deliveries, with around 200 trucks expected to enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom on Sunday, pending access.

Residents in Jabaliya in northern Gaza also reported ground fighting. Hamas has managed to launch attacks in northern and central Gaza despite Israeli control.

The international community, including the US, has opposed Israel's plans to attack Rafah, fearing significant civilian casualties. However, US objections have softened since the operation began.

The conflict, sparked by Hamas’s attack on October 7, has resulted in around 1,200 Israeli deaths and nearly 36,000 deaths in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Efforts to negotiate a new truce have failed. Recent talks mediated by the US, Egypt, and Qatar ended without progress. US intelligence officials met Israeli and Qatari delegations in Paris on Friday to revive negotiations, but Hamas reported no updates from mediators.

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