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An Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza kills at least nine Palestinians in Rafah, including six children | News, sports, jobs


A Palestinian youth mourns his relative killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at the mortuary of the Kuwaiti hospital in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

By MOHAMMAD JAHJOUH and SAMY MAGDY Associated Press

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah has killed at least nine people, including six children, hospital authorities said Saturday, as Israel continues its nearly seven-month offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory. .

Israel’s war against the Islamist militant group Hamas has led to a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East in recent weeks, particularly between Israel and Iran. Now attention is returning to Rafah, which shelters more than half of Gaza’s population, some 2.3 million people, many displaced by fighting elsewhere.

Relatives wept and hugged the shrouded bodies of children at al-Najjar hospital. “Hamza my beloved. Your hair looks so beautiful,” said a grieving grandmother.

Among the fatalities were Abdel-Fattah Sobhi Radwan, his wife Najlaa Ahmed Aweidah and their three children, his brother-in-law Ahmed Barhoum said. Barhoum lost his wife, Rawan Radwan, and their 5-year-old daughter, Alaa.

“This is a world devoid of all human values ​​and morals,” Barhoum told The Associated Press, crying as he cradled Alaa’s body. “The only martyrs were women and children.”

Israel has been pushing for months to plan a ground offensive against Rafah, where it says many remaining Hamas militants are hiding, despite calls for restraint from the international community, including Israel’s closest ally, the United States.

Some Palestinians left an area in Rafah near the border with Egypt on Saturday after receiving an evacuation warning from the Israeli army. “Guys, they’ll strike at 3:40 p.m. It’s happening. What time is it now?” said one. Minutes later a strike followed. It was not immediately known whether anyone had been killed.

Also Saturday, a house in the Bureji urban refugee camp in central Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike, killing at least one man and wounding two others, according to authorities at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where an AP journalist saw the victims.

The war was sparked by an unprecedented Oct. 7 raid in southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups, killing about 1,200 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and kidnapping about 250 people and taking them to Gaza. Israel says about 130 hostages remain in Gaza, although more than 30 have been killed.

Frustration among many in Israel remains, and thousands of anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv renewed calls for new elections and an agreement to release the remaining hostages. “We don’t know what to do anymore, so we stand here crying and screaming for help,” said one protester, Iris Milnar.

The Palestinian death toll from the war stands at at least 34,049, with 76,901 injured, Gaza’s health ministry said, adding that the bodies of 37 people killed by Israeli strikes have been taken to hospitals in the past 24 hours. Hamas-led health authorities do not distinguish between fighters and civilians in their numbers, but say at least two-thirds are children and women.

Israel blames Hamas for the civilian casualties and says it is entrenching itself in the population.

The war has increased regional tensions. On Friday, Israel and arch-enemy Iran downplayed an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran, signaling their withdrawal from what could have become an all-out war. A week ago, Iran fired an unprecedented rocket barrage into Israel after a suspected Israeli attack killed two Iranian generals at an Iranian consulate in Syria.

Israel continues to confront Iran’s allies and regularly carries out rocket and drone attacks across the Lebanese-Israeli border with the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in what they call solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Tensions are also high in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 12 bodies were recovered from the Nur Sham urban refugee camp on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 13 since an Israeli military operation began in the area on Thursday evening. It said they were killed “as a result of the aggression of the occupation.”

The militant group Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of three members. Another death was a 15-year-old boy. The Israeli army said its forces killed 10 militants in the camp and surrounding areas, while eight suspects were arrested. Nine of its officers and soldiers were injured, the report said.

At least 469 Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank have been killed by Israeli fire since October, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the ministry said an ambulance driver was shot dead near the town of Sawiya while trying to reach Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli settlers. The Palestinian Red Crescent said Mohammed Musa had been shot in the chest. A week ago, a wave of settler attacks began after an Israeli teenager went missing and was found dead.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jack Jeffrey in Jerusalem contributed.

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war



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