Israel Strikes Kill at Least 11 in Gaza, Tanks Push Further into Rafah

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 23 June 2024. (EPA)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 23 June 2024. (EPA)
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Israel Strikes Kill at Least 11 in Gaza, Tanks Push Further into Rafah

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 23 June 2024. (EPA)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 23 June 2024. (EPA)

Two Israeli air strikes targeting aid supplies killed at least 11 Palestinians in Gaza on Monday, medics said, as Israeli tanks pushed deeper into Rafah in the south and fought their way back into areas in the north they had already subdued months ago.

One strike at a food distribution center in Gaza City, near the Shati historic refugee camp, killed three people. Another, near Bani Suhaila town in the southern Gaza Strip, killed at least eight, including guards who accompany aid trucks, the medics said.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which denies attacking aid efforts and accuses militants of causing harm to civilians by operating among them.

Overnight, an Israeli air strike at a medical clinic in Gaza City killed the director of Gaza's Ambulance and Emergency Department, the enclave's health ministry said. Israel's military said that strike had killed a senior Hamas armed commander.

The health ministry said the killing of Hani al-Jaafarawi brought the number of medical staff killed by Israeli fire since Oct. 7 to 500. At least 300 others have so far been detained.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the strike targeted Mohammad Salah, who it said was responsible for developing Hamas weaponry.

NO CEASEFIRE ACCORD

More than eight months into the fighting, international mediation backed by the United States has so far failed to bring a ceasefire agreement. Hamas says any agreement must bring an end to the war, while Israel says it will agree only temporary pauses in fighting until Hamas is eradicated.

In Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli forces which took control of the eastern, southern, and central parts of the city pursued their raid into the western and northern areas, said residents, describing heavy fighting.

On Sunday, residents had said Israeli tanks had advanced to the edge of the Mawasi displaced persons' camp in the northwest of Rafah, forcing many families to leave northward to Khan Younis and to Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, the only city in the enclave where tanks have not yet invaded.

"The situation in Tel Al-Sultan, in western Rafah, remains very dangerous. Drones and Israeli snipers are hunting people who try to check on their houses, and tanks continue to take over areas overseeing Al-Mawasi further west," Bassam, a resident of Rafah, told Reuters via a chat app.

The Israeli military said forces continued "intelligence-based targeted operations" in Rafah, locating weapons and rocket launchers and killing fighters "who posed threats to them."

In the north of the enclave, where Israel had said its forces completed operations months ago, residents said tanks had pushed back into Gaza City's Zeitoun suburb and were pounding several areas there.

In Deir al-Balah, now the last refuge for many thousands of Gazans following the assault on Rafah, medics at a clinic were trying to treat malnutrition in children and measure the extent of hunger stalking the Strip.

"With the displacement, communities are settling in new locations that do not have access to clean water, or there is not adequate access to food," said Muaamar Said, a doctor with aid group International Medical Corps. "We fear there are more cases being missed."

NETANYAHU SAYS INTENSE FIGHTING COULD END SOON

Israel's ground and air campaign in Gaza was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has left Gaza in ruins.

Since early May, fighting has focused on Rafah, on Gaza's southern edge where around half of the enclave's 2.3 million people had been sheltering after fleeing other areas.

Netanyahu said the phase of intense fighting against Hamas would end "very soon".

In an interview with Israel's channel 14, he said forces based in Gaza would be freed to move to the north, where Israel has warned of a potential full-blown war against Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which has struck the border region in what it says is solidarity with the Palestinians.

"After the intense phase is finished, we will have the possibility to move part of the forces north. And we will do this," Netanyahu said.

The interview was Netanyahu's first since the start of the war in a television format he has favored in election campaigns.

He said he would support only a temporary ceasefire, before troops would return to fighting. Hamas said this was evidence that he was reneging on a truce offer touted by the White House and backed by the United Nations.

The remarks showed that Netanyahu was using ceasefire negotiations only as a stalling tactic while combat continues, Ezzat El-Reshiq, a senior Hamas political official who lives in exile, said in a statement.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.