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Rafah Strike Kills 35, Israel "Aware" of Reports on Civilian Harm

Photo : Reuters

In a tragic turn of events, a devastating air strike hit a centre for displaced people near the southern city of Rafah, Gaza, resulting in what officials described as a "massacre" on Sunday. Gaza officials reported that the Israeli strikes claimed the lives of 35 people and left dozens more injured, with a majority of them being children and women.

The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza condemned the attack, labeling it a "horrific massacre." They stated that the strike targeted a center operated by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees near Rafah, adding to the outcry over civilian casualties.

Israel's military, on the other hand, confirmed that its aircraft had struck a Hamas compound in Rafah. They identified two senior Hamas officials, Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, as among the casualties. Additionally, they acknowledged reports of civilian harm resulting from the strike and subsequent fire, stating that the incident was under review.

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The escalation in violence was not limited to the air strikes alone. Israel's army reported at least eight rockets fired towards central areas of the country from Rafah, with Tel Aviv being targeted for the first time in months. This exchange of fire further heightened tensions in the region.

Fighting in Rafah has been ongoing, with Israel's military conducting ground operations in the area since early May, despite widespread opposition due to concerns for civilian safety. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported transporting a significant number of casualties from the strikes, indicating the severity of the situation.

The Palestinian presidency in the West Bank condemned the attack, describing it as a "heinous massacre" and accusing Israeli forces of deliberately targeting displaced people's tents. Meanwhile, Gaza's civil defense agency reported that the strikes killed and wounded at least 50 people in an area where approximately 100,000 displaced people reside.

Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, called on Palestinians to rise up against what they termed as an Israeli army "massacre" in Rafah. The situation further complicated efforts to reach a ceasefire and negotiate the release of hostages held by Hamas operatives.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to the offensive, emphasizing the need to address security concerns and prevent further attacks. He faced domestic pressure to secure the release of hostages and navigate diplomatic tensions arising from the conflict.

International actors, including the European Union and the United States, expressed concern over the escalating violence and called for renewed efforts to halt the war. However, achieving a ceasefire remained elusive as both sides continued to exchange fire.

The ongoing conflict has taken a heavy toll on civilians, with casualties mounting on both sides. The plight of hostages held by Hamas added another layer of urgency to the situation, as families and international observers pressed for their release.

As the violence persisted, humanitarian agencies warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with essential services strained and hospitals overwhelmed. The International Criminal Court's involvement added further complexity to the situation, as legal proceedings were initiated against key figures on both sides.

Despite international pressure and diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire, the conflict showed no signs of abating. As civilian casualties continued to rise and the humanitarian situation deteriorated, the urgency for a resolution grew more pronounced, highlighting the need for a concerted international response to end the bloodshed and bring about lasting peace in the region.

May 27, 2024 10:22 a.m. 512

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