Israeli airstrike on Rafah kills 22 at displaced camp

WAFAA SHURAFA, TIA GOLDENBERG and SAMY MAGDY (Associated Press) |

Israel is under growing pressure to get more aid into Gaza after more than seven months of a war.
Israel is under growing pressure to get more aid into Gaza after more than seven months of a war.

Palestinian medics say 22 people have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that hit tents for displaced people.

There were no immediate details on the target, but footage from the scene showed heavy destruction.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s army.

The strike comes two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah.

On Sunday, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive.

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

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion. It said “a number” of the projectiles were intercepted, and military spokesman Daniel Hagari said the launcher in Rafah was destroyed.

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

Egypt agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, after a call between US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

But the Kerem Shalom crossing has been largely inaccessible because of Israel’s offensive in Rafah. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks to enter, but United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid.

Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in the Sinai Peninsula, which handles aid delivery from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, said 200 aid trucks and four fuel trucks were being sent to Kerem Shalom on Sunday.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count.

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

Around 80 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Northern Gaza receives aid through two land routes that Israel opened during global outrage after Israeli strikes killed seven aid workers in April.

A few dozen trucks enter Gaza daily through a US-built floating pier, but its capacity remains far below the 150 trucks a day that officials hoped for. Aid groups say 600 trucks a day are needed.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
The EU’s Josep Borrell says Israel must abide by the UN court’s rulings against its Gaza operation. (AP PHOTO)

Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve “total victory” over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza where the military has operated.

Netanyahu faces growing pressure to make a deal with Hamas to free the remaining hostages, something Hamas has refused without guarantees for an end to the war and full withdrawal of Israeli troops. Netanyahu has ruled that out.

The war leaves Israel increasingly isolated on the world stage.

Last week, three European countries announced they would recognise a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israel’s defence minister along with three Hamas leaders.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah. The top UN court also said Israel must give war crimes investigators access to Gaza. Israel is unlikely to comply.

Israel’s military said it had detained a suspect over a widely circulated video in which a man dressed as a soldier threatens mutiny. In the video, the man says tens of thousands of soldiers were ready to disobey the defence minister over his suggestion that Palestinians should govern Gaza after the war and pledged loyalty to Netanyahu alone.

with DPA

AP