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Israeli Incursion in Rafah Deadly Assault Claim Civilian Lives

Photo : AFP

Israeli forces conducted airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, focusing on the southern city of Rafah, in the latest escalation of the nearly eight-month-long conflict. The incursion into Rafah, initiated in early May, has drawn international concern regarding the safety of civilians in the area, particularly those sheltering near the border with Egypt.

Witnesses reported Israeli strikes in Rafah and central Gaza's Nuseirat, with intense bombardment witnessed in the northern region. Medical sources from hospitals in Deir al-Balah and the Nuseirat refugee camp confirmed that strikes on two separate locations overnight resulted in the deaths of 11 people.

The Israeli military stated that its operations in Rafah targeted rocket launchers, weapons, and tunnel shafts, asserting that it "targeted and eliminated" a combatant in the area. Further airstrikes in central Gaza were reported to have "eliminated several terrorists who operated near" Israeli troops, although specific details were not provided.

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Israel's military action follows repeated vows to dismantle Hamas after the group launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7. Israeli forces claimed control over the 14-kilometer Philadelphi corridor along the Gaza-Egypt border, alleging it as a route for weapon smuggling, a move that has yet to receive official comment from Egypt.

Efforts towards a ceasefire have stalled, with Hamas indicating a willingness to agree to a comprehensive truce only if Israel ceases its aggression. Israeli authorities reported the killing of approximately 300 Palestinian combatants in Rafah since the military operation began.

The conflict has prompted a mass exodus of civilians from Rafah, with up to one million people fleeing the area, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. The United Nations has warned of an impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza, exacerbated by the Israeli seizure of the Rafah crossing, which has hindered aid deliveries and effectively closed the territory's main exit point.

Despite allegations of deliberate targeting of civilians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed such claims as "anti-Semitic slander," asserting that the ratio of combatants to civilians killed in the offensive was the lowest seen in an urban war.

The escalation of violence has led to international condemnation and calls for an immediate ceasefire. Algeria presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding a halt to hostilities and the release of all hostages, though the timing of the vote remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, internal political tensions in Israel have surfaced, with Benny Gantz's centrist party proposing a bill to dissolve parliament for an early election, drawing criticism from Prime Minister Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.

As the conflict persists, the toll on civilian lives and infrastructure continues to mount, underscoring the urgent need for diplomatic intervention to halt the violence and pave the way for a lasting peace in the region

May 31, 2024 2:55 p.m. 459

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