Israeli airstrike on Rafah camp in Gaza kills at least 45, says Gaza ministry

According to AFP and Reuters, the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah has been raised to 45 by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The strike targeted tents that were being used by displaced individuals, resulting in a number of people being trapped in the burning debris.

Just hours after Hamas claimed responsibility for firing a barrage of rockets from Gaza towards central Israel, an airstrike was carried out. This marked the first time in months that rocket sirens were heard in cities like Tel Aviv.

The Israeli attack prompted immediate condemnation from several countries including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, France, and Qatar. These nations cautioned that the attack could potentially hinder the progress made in the ongoing negotiations for a truce and the release of hostages in the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has been ongoing since October 7. According to AFP, the attack has raised concerns about the future of these peace talks.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, the current situation in Gaza is unprecedented. They stated, “Never before in history has such a large number of mass killing tools been amassed and employed together in front of the world as is happening now in Gaza.” The statement highlights the severe shortages of essential resources such as water, food, medicine, electricity, and fuel.

According to eyewitnesses interviewed by CBS News in Gaza, a series of eight airstrikes targeted tents in the western Rafah area. It is important to note that these reports have not been independently confirmed. The eyewitnesses further stated that casualties, including civilians, were quickly transported to Emirati Hospital. These tents formed part of a larger camp located approximately 200 meters (about 650 feet) away from the Gaza Strip’s largest United Nations warehouse.

In a statement released on Sunday night, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed the occurrence of the strike.

Recently, the IDF conducted an airstrike on a Hamas compound in Rafah. The IDF stated that the strike targeted known Hamas terrorists and complied with international law. The operation utilized accurate munitions and was based on reliable intelligence confirming Hamas’ presence in the area. However, the IDF acknowledges reports of civilian casualties caused by the strike and subsequent fire. The incident is currently being reviewed.

The scene was captured on camera, revealing extensive devastation. According to a representative from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the number of casualties is expected to rise as search and rescue operations persist in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, located west of the city center.

According to the society, Israel had designated the location as a “humanitarian area.”

Just two days after the International Court of Justice issued a ruling ordering Israel to cease its military offensive in Rafah, a strike has been launched.

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, received a briefing on Sunday in Rafah regarding the “deepening of operations” in the area, as stated by his office.

According to Reuters, the al-Qassam Brigades stated on its Telegram channel that Hamas launched the rockets in response to what they referred to as “Zionist massacres against civilians.”

The Israel Defense Forces reported that its air defenses successfully intercepted multiple projectiles following the launch of eight rockets from Rafah in the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

During the war, the militants launched projectiles at communities in the vicinity of Gaza. However, they haven’t fired any longer-range rockets in several months.

According to the Associated Press, there have been no immediate reports of casualties or damage resulting from what seems to be the initial long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January.

The tension intensified following the entry of aid trucks into Gaza from southern Israel, as part of a new agreement to avoid using the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Just a few hours before this, Israeli forces had taken control of the southern city of Rafah. It remains uncertain whether humanitarian organizations will be able to safely reach and distribute the aid due to the ongoing conflict in the area.

Egypt has made it clear that it will not reopen the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is returned to the Palestinians. As a temporary solution, they have agreed to divert traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, which serves as Gaza’s primary cargo terminal. This decision came about following a conversation between U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in a devastating toll on the Palestinian population. Local health officials report that the war, which has now entered its eighth month, has claimed the lives of nearly 36,000 Palestinians. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that around 80% of the population, totaling 2.3 million individuals, have been forced to leave their homes. This mass displacement has led to severe hunger among the affected population, with reports of famine in certain parts of the territory. The dire humanitarian crisis calls for immediate attention and intervention from the international community.

Hamas initiated the war by launching an attack into Israel on October 7. During this attack, Hamas militants killed approximately 1,200 people, the majority of whom were civilians, and took around 250 hostages. Currently, Hamas still holds approximately 100 hostages and the remains of about 30 others, as most of the remaining hostages were released during a ceasefire last year.

U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas are expected to continue in the coming week, according to a CBS News report on Saturday. The negotiations will involve representatives from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.

A senior Biden administration official has indicated that progress is being made in ongoing negotiations with the help of Egyptian and Qatari mediators. The administration is actively engaged in these discussions and plans to continue working closely with the mediators in the coming week to push the negotiating process forward.

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