Newborn among 22 killed in Israeli airstrikes on Rafah

Tel Aviv threatens to invade southern Rafah city where over a million Palestinians displaced by Israeli bombardment are sheltering

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar,Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 30 April 2024 04:26 BST
Related: Israeli airstrike hits Gaza hospital camp

The death toll from Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Monday soared to 22, including a newborn, said Palestinian health officials.

Israeli warplanes struck three houses in the refugee camp, where over a million Palestinians have taken shelter from months of Israeli bombardment, health officials said.

Among those killed were six women and five children. A newborn baby of only five days of age died in the strikes.

“Everyone was sleeping in their beds,” said Mahmoud Abu Taha, whose cousin was killed along with his wife and their year-old baby in a house where at least 10 died.

“They have nothing to do with anything.”

Israeli planes struck three residential buildings in Rafah where more than half of Gaza’s displaced population is taking shelter to flee Israel’s assault.

The attacks occurred despite Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas pleading with the US to stop Israel from attacking the border city.

Mr Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority, said that the US was the only nation capable of halting Israel’s assault on Rafah.

“We call on the United States of America to ask Israel to not carry on the Rafah attack. America is the only country able to prevent Israel from committing this crime,” Mr Abbas told a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

It coincided with US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s seventh diplomatic mission to the Middle East on Monday since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

Before his trip to Israel this week, Mr Blinken called on Tel Aviv to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip at an event in Saudi Arabia’s capital.

“Hamas has before it a proposal that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel, and in this moment, the only thing standing between the people of Gaza and cease-fire is Hamas,” he said at a World Economic Forum gathering in Riyadh.

“They have to decide, and they have to decide quickly. So, we’re looking to that, and I’m hopeful that they will make the right decision and we can have a fundamental change in the dynamic,” Mr Blinken said.

Israel has threatened for weeks to launch a ground assault on Rafah and stepped up airstrikes last week to destroy what it calls Hamas’s "remaining battalions".

The US, the UK and several other nations have called on Israel not to launch a ground invasion of Rafah, fearing for the lives of the refugees gathered there.

Gazan authorities remove the remains of Palestinians from a mass grave
Gazan authorities remove the remains of Palestinians from a mass grave (Getty)

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians so far, displaced most of its 2.3 million people and laid much of the enclave to waste.

The ongoing war was triggered by an attack by Hamas militants on Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 and taking 253 hostages.

US president Joe Biden "reiterated his clear position" on the Israeli military’s possible invasion of Rafah in a phone call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.

Mr Biden previously said Washington wouldn’t support such an operation without an appropriate and credible humanitarian plan.

"The president reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to Israel's security," the White House said in a statement, without providing further details.

Egypt is expected to host leaders from Hamas on Monday to discuss prospects for a ceasefire agreement with Israel.

Hamas said a delegation led by Khalil Al-Hayya, the group's deputy Gaza chief, would discuss a ceasefire proposal handed by Hamas to mediators from Qatar and Egypt as well as Israel's response.

The truce talks in Cairo will take place between the Hamas delegation and the Qatari and Egyptian mediators, backed by the US. "Hamas has some questions and inquiries over the Israeli response to its proposal which the movement received from mediators on Friday," a Hamas official told Reuters.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in