World News 27 Mayıs 2024

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv

Israeli airstrikes on Rafah have reportedly killed at least 45 people and injured dozens more after Hamas launched rocket attacks towards Tel Aviv for the first time in months.

The strike in the southern Gaza city hit tents for displaced people, according to Palestinian medics. Footage from the scene shows heavy destruction.

However, Israel’s military said it struck a “Hamas compound” in Rafah and killed two senior Hamas militants. It said it was investigating reports civilians were harmed.

It said the attack took out Hamas’s chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official behind deadly attacks on Israelis.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
Pics: Reuters

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said “most” of those killed were women and children.

In a statement, Hamas condemned the attack on what it claimed was “an area crowded with hundreds of thousands of displaced people”.

The strike took place in Tel al Sultan neighbourhood of western Rafah, where thousands of people were taking shelter after many fled the eastern areas of the city where Israeli forces began a ground offensive over two weeks ago.

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll was likely to increase as search and rescue efforts continued.

The society said the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area” and that people remain trapped amid the destruction.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement: “The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using through the use of precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas’ use of the area.

“The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review.”

Israel’s top military prosecutor described the incident as “very grave” and said an after-action investigation by the armed forces was continuing.

“The details of the incident are still under an investigation, which we are committed to conducting to the fullest extent,” Major-General Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi told a conference hosted by the Israel Bar Association.

“The IDF regrets any harm to non-combatants during the war.”

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
Fire rages after the Israeli strike in Rafah. Pic: Reuters

Gaza situation ‘beyond catastrophic’

On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, with Israel insisting it is key to its self-defence and its goal of destroying Hamas entirely.

The situation in Gaza is “beyond catastrophic”, the humanitarian leader at Oxfam has told Sky News.

Magnus Corfixen said: “We are basically seeing an increase in indiscriminate attacks from Israel since the ICJ ruling.

“The situation is beyond horrific.”

He said “more people will be losing their lives” with Israel’s military offensive and many of those affected were women and children.

“Things will just keep on getting worse,” he added.

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said reports of attacks on families seeking shelter in Rafah were “horrifying”.

“Information coming out of Rafah about further attacks on families seeking shelter is horrifying,” UNRWA wrote on X.

“There are reports of mass casualties including children and women among those killed. Gaza is hell on earth. Images from last night are yet another testament to that.”

Hamas fires rockets towards Tel Aviv

The strike on Rafah comes after Hamas launched rocket attacks from Gaza towards Tel Aviv earlier on Sunday.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January, although Palestinian militants have continued to sporadically fire rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border since then.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
One of Israel’s Iron Dome defence missiles. File pic: AP

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system intercepted several of the missiles, it added.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
Aid trucks enter Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel on Sunday. Pic: AP

Read more:
Three countries recognise Palestinian state
Biden: Gaza situation does not constitute genocide

Earlier on Sunday, aid trucks entered Gaza via Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time since a new aid agreement was struck.

Aid routes were rediverted after Egypt closed its side of the Rafah crossing over Israel’s decision to seize control of the Gaza side.

It is unclear whether humanitarian groups will be able to access incoming aid because of ongoing fighting in Rafah, however.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
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Israeli protests over hostages

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing pressure to make a deal with Hamas to free its remaining hostages after several bodies were recovered recently.

There were large protests in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, with scuffles breaking out between protesters and police.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
A placard showing an Israeli hostage during protests inTel Aviv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv
Image:
Police and protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Pic: Reuters

Now in its eighth month, the Israel-Hamas war has killed almost 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

The vast majority of Gaza’s two million-strong population has been displaced.

Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October last year killed 1,200 people, with militants taking some 250 hostages, around 100 of whom remain in captivity in Gaza.

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