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Israeli airstrikes hit Rafah, hours after the Hamas attack

Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes today killed at least 35 people and hit tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and left “countless” others trapped in flaming rubble.

Gaza’s health ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of injured.

The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents had sought shelter before Israel’s invasion earlier this month.

Tens of thousands of people remain in the area, while many others have fled.

Images from the scene of the largest airstrike showed heavy destruction. The Israeli military confirmed the attack, saying it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants.

It said it was investigating reports that civilians had been injured. Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant was in Rafah and was briefed on the “deepening of operations” there, his office said.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent said the death toll was likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continued in Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, about two kilometers northwest of the city center.

The association claimed that the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area”.

The neighborhood is not part of the areas the Israeli army evacuated earlier this month.

The airstrike was reported hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months, in a show of resilience more than seven months after the massive air, sea and ground offensive of Israel. .

This frame shot, taken from a video shoot in southern Israel, shows flames and smoke rising from what Palestinian medics believe is an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

There were no reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility. The Israeli military said eight projectiles entered Israel after being launched from Rafah, “a number” were intercepted and the launcher was destroyed.

Earlier this month, dozens of aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new deal to bypass the Rafah border crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month.

The Israeli military said 126 aid trucks entered Shalom through the nearby Kerem border crossing.

But it was not immediately clear whether humanitarian groups could access the aid – including medical supplies – because of the fighting.

The border crossing is largely inaccessible due to the Israeli offensive in Rafah. United Nations agencies said it is usually too dangerous to withdraw aid.

The World Health Organization said last week that an extended Israeli incursion into Rafah would have “disastrous” consequences.

“With the humanitarian operation nearing collapse, the Secretary-General emphasizes that Israeli authorities must facilitate the safe collection and delivery of humanitarian supplies from Egypt entering Kerem Shalom,” UN chief Antonio Guterres’ spokesman said in a statement.

Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is returned to the Palestinians.

This frame shot, taken from a video shoot in southern Israel, shows flames and smoke rising from what Palestinian medics believe is an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

It was agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, following a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which makes no distinction between civilians and combatants in its count.

Israel blames Hamas for the civilian deaths because the militants operate in densely populated residential areas.

About 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials said parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Hamas unleashed the war with its attack on Israel on October 7, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas is still holding about 100 hostages and the remains of about 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve a “total victory” over the militants, who have recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza.

The war has also increased tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Palestinian authorities said Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the southern West Bank town of Saeer. The Israeli military said the Palestinian man was shot dead after he tried to stab Israeli troops at Beit Einun Junction.