Middle East conflict

Israel strikes Rafah refugee camp, 37 killed, local health officials say

Israel strikes Rafah refugee camp, 37 killed, local health officials say
Residents evacuate from Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 10 February 2024 (issued 11 February 2024). Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu on 09 February ordered the Israeli military to present a plan for the evacuation of Palestinians from Rafah. More than 28,000 Palestinians and over 1,300 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

DOHA/JERUSALEM, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Israeli strikes on Gaza's southern city of Rafah killed 37 people and wounded dozens, local health officials said on Monday, after US President Joe Biden told Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible plan to protect civilians.

Heavy bombing caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes started, said residents contacted by Reuters using a chat app. Some feared Israel had begun its ground offensive into Rafah.

Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.

The Israeli military said on Monday it had conducted a “series of strikes” on southern Gaza that have now “concluded,” without providing further details.

Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.

Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said.

Aid agencies say an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic. It is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, days after the US leader said Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip had been “over the top” and expressed grave concern over the rising civilian death toll in the Palestinian enclave.

Netanyahu’s office has said that it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it says are deployed there.

Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted at least 250 in their Oct. 7 incursion, according to Israeli tallies. Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Netanyahu said in an interview aired on Sunday that “enough” of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza were alive to justify Israel’s war in the region.

Israeli military said two hostages were freed overnight in a joint operation by the Israel Defence Force (IDF), Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security service and the Special Police Unit in Rafah.

Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, who were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, were in good condition and taken to the Tel Hashomer Medical Complex, the military said.

Hamas-run Aqsa Television on Sunday quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would “blow up” the hostage-exchange negotiations.

Egypt warned on Sunday of “dire consequences” of a potential Israeli military assault on Rafah, which lies near its border.

“Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,” its foreign ministry added in a statement.

(Reporting Nidal al-Mughrabi in Doha, Emily Rose in Jerusalem and Reuters bureaux; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Gerry Doyle)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • J L says:

    DM reporting is getting worse.
    Anything coming from Palestinians is reported as fact (e.g. 37 dead), yet anything coming from Israelis reported as allegation (Israel said, IDF said)

  • Laurent Adamson says:

    Many are questioning the appropriateness of Israel’s response to the October 7 attack. In the context of war, this question is inherently fallacious. Consider a hypothetical scenario: Imagine waking up one night to find armed burglars in your home, resulting in the tragic loss of two family members. After putting up a fight, the assailants escape to your neighbors, taking two of your children hostage. Pursuing them, you manage to eliminate one of the attackers, but they hide your children within the neighbor’s residence. Using members of your neighbor’s household as shields, the burglars open fire on you and your family. In self-defense, you return fire, successfully neutralizing another assailant but inadvertently causing the death of one neighbor and injuring another. The assailants persist in their aggression, threatening to eliminate your entire household. With two burglars already eliminated, your children still in captivity, and the threat unabated, would it be reasonable to expect you to cease retaliatory actions simply because you have, proportionally, taken out an equivalent number of attackers and risk hitting another neighbor? I don’t believe so. Instead, it would be reasonable to expect you to continue efforts to eradicate the threat these criminals pose and secure the release of your children.

    However, the world criticizes Israel for precisely this—continuing the war to eradicate both current and future threats to its citizens. Hamas, in a cowardly move, hides behind its citizens, embedding missile launchers in civilian infrastructure (hospitals, schools, mosques, homes, etc.), a blatant war crime. A cowardly strategy with no regard for their citizen’s safety, they hope to shield them from Israel’s retaliation. Strangely, the world remains silent about these atrocities and war crimes committed by Hamas, expecting Israel not to target those positions from which Hamas launches missiles. This stance is absurd.

    President Biden, when deeming Israel’s responses as “over the top,” demonstrates a lack of understanding of how wars are won. In warfare, there is no room for proportionate responses—the primary goal is the complete elimination of the threat. Responding proportionately in war guarantees that the conflict will be never-ending.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    Go Israel! We salute your efforts against one of the most vicious and barbaric terrorist groupings around [possibly Russia’s Africa Corps (nee Wagner Group) excepted].
    The UN has just declared Sudan to be the area of “most displaced people” in the world.
    DM, where is your news article on that? Why are you preoccupied with Palestine?

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