February 21, 2024

By Najib Jobain, Wafaa Shurafa and Kareen Chehayeb | Related Press

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes killed over a dozen folks in a single day and into Thursday in Rafah within the Gaza Strip, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ cease-fire phrases and vowed to broaden the offensive into the southern Gaza city.

Greater than half of strip’s inhabitants has fled to Rafah, on the principally sealed border with Egypt, which can be the primary entry level for humanitarian assist. Egypt has warned that any floor operation there or mass displacement throughout the border would undermine its four-decade-old peace treaty with Israel.

The in a single day strikes killed not less than 13 folks, together with two girls and 5 kids, in line with the Kuwaiti Hospital, which obtained the our bodies. On the scene of one of many strikes, residents used their cellphone flashlights as they dug by the rubble with pick-axes and their naked fingers.

“I want we might acquire their entire our bodies as a substitute of simply items,” stated Mohammed Abu Habib, a neighbor who witnessed the strike.

Israel’s four-month-old air and floor offensive — among the many most harmful in current historical past — has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, pushed most individuals from their houses and pushed 1 / 4 of the inhabitants towards hunger.

Netanyahu has stated the offensive will proceed and broaden till “complete victory” over Hamas, which began the battle by launching a wide-ranging assault into southern Israel on Oct. 7 through which militants killed some 1,200 folks, principally civilians, and took round 250 hostage.

Israel has additionally vowed to convey again the over 100 captives nonetheless held by Hamas after a lot of the relaxation had been freed throughout a cease-fire in November in trade for the discharge of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

However each of these objectives seem more and more elusive, as Hamas re-emerges in components of northern Gaza, which was the primary goal of the offensive and suffered widespread destruction. Israel has solely rescued one hostage, whereas Hamas says a number of have been killed in airstrikes or failed rescue missions.

ALARM GROWS AS ISRAEL EYES RAFAH

Netanyahu stated preparations had been underway to broaden the offensive into Rafah, the place a whole lot of hundreds of people that fled from different areas are crowded into squalid tent camps and overflowing U.N.-run shelters.

The Palestinian dying toll from 4 months of battle has already reached 27,840, in line with the Well being Ministry within the Hamas-run territory. The ministry doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures however says a lot of the lifeless have been girls and kids.

Worldwide assist organizations have warned that any main operation in Rafah would compound what’s already a humanitarian disaster within the besieged coastal enclave.

“In the event that they aren’t killed within the preventing, Palestinian kids, ladies and men might be susceptible to dying by hunger or illness.” stated Bob Kitchen, of the Worldwide Rescue Committee. “There’ll not be a single ‘secure’ space for Palestinians to go to.”

Outdoors the hospital the place our bodies from the in a single day strikes had been introduced, kinfolk wept as they stated farewell to their family members. Warda Abu Warda stated she felt helpless.”The place will we go after Rafah? Can we go to sea?” she requested.

GAPS REMAIN IN TALKS OVER CEASE-FIRE AND HOSTAGE RELEASE

America, Qatar and Egypt are attempting to dealer one other cease-fire settlement to make sure the discharge the remaining hostages. However Hamas has demanded an finish to the battle, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the discharge of a whole lot of Palestinian prisoners, together with high-profile militants.