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Israel Kills Dozen in Rafah Strikes, Frees Two Captives.

Israel Kills Dozen in Rafah Strikes, Frees Two Captives.

Israel carried out air strikes in the southern Gaza City of Rafah, killing dozens, according to health officials, as Palestinians brace for a major offensive on the densely crowded urban area.

There were conflicting reports of the death toll following the predawn strikes on 5 February 2024.

The AFP news agency reported that the strikes killed 52 people. Reuters reported that at least 67 had been killed. Both outlets quoted health officials in Gaza.

The Israeli strikes hit 14 houses and three mosques in Rafah, according to Palestinian officials.

However, Al Jazeera Arabic reporters reported that at least 63 people were killed in the strikes on the mosques. A press statement from Hamas asserted that more than 100 had been killed in the city.

“Israel is officially continuing to target civilians and transfer the war to Rafah to push the population to get
displaced under bombardment,” the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released on X
(twitter).

“The recent massacres of the occupation are evidence of the validity of international warnings and fears of catastrophic results of the expansion of the war to Rafah,” the ministry added.

Israel’s military said it had struck a number of “terror targets” in the Shaboura district of Rafah and the strikes had concluded.

It also announced that in an overnight operation in Rafah it had rescued two captives taken by Hamas on October
7, 2023.

Military officials said the captives, named as Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har, were in good condition.

Hamas warned that an Israeli ground assault in Rafah would “blow up” negotiations to release the group’s
remaining captives in Gaza.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on 5 February to press on with the offensive.

“Only continued military pressure, until complete victory, will result in the release of all our hostages,” he said in a statement.

The strikes on Rafah come as Israel is preparing to launch a major offensive that aid agencies fear would result in
significant civilian casualties in the last relatively safe area of Gaza.

About 1.4 million Palestinians, or more than half the population of Gaza, have crowded into Rafah to escape Israeli bombardment, which reduced much of the rest of the enclave to ruins.

Hamas condemned Israel for the attacks, saying they represent an “expansion of the scope of the massacres it is committing against our people, there using the war to expand themselves and erase our race”

“The Nazi occupation army’s attack on the city of Rafah on 11 February 2024 claimed the lives of more than a
hundred martyrs so far, is considered a continuation of the genocidal war and the attempts at forced displacement it is waging against our Palestinian people,” the group said in a press release.

United States President Joe Biden on warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to launch an offensive on Rafah without a “credible and executable plan” to ensure the safety of people sheltering in the city.

Netanyahu has promised “safe passage” for Palestinians in Rafah, but the lack of clarity about evacuation plans has prompted fears that they may be pushed into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, stoking tensions with Cairo.

Netanyahu told Fox News that “there’s plenty of room” north of Rafah and that is “where we’re going to direct them”, without specifying which part of Gaza would be safe to evacuate to.

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