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Israel-Hamas war: Israeli strikes in Rafah kill 22, mostly children

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza town of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday, as the U.S. United were on the verge of approving billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel. his close ally.

Israel has carried out almost daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have sought refuge. fight elsewhere. He also committed to expand its land offensive against the Hamas militant group in the town on the border with Egypt, despite international calls for restraint, including from the United States.

“In the coming days, we will increase political and military pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to bring back our hostages and achieve victory. We will soon deal more and more painful blows to Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. He did not give details.

The first Israeli strike in Rafah killed a man, his wife and their 3-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti hospital, which received the bodies. The woman was pregnant and doctors managed to save the baby, the hospital said.

The second strike killed 17 children and two women, all from extended families, according to hospital records. Mohammed al Beheiri said his daughter, Rasha, and six children, the youngest of whom was 18 months old, were among those killed. Her husband’s second wife and their three children are still under the rubble, al-Beheiri said.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health authorities, devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left widespread destruction. Around 80% of the territory’s population fled to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.

THE $26 billion aid package approved by the House of Representatives on Saturday includes about $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, which experts say is on the verge of starvation. The Senate could pass the package as early as Tuesday, and President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

The conflict, which is in its seventh month, sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the United States against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran exchanged fire directly this month, raising fears of all-out war between the longtime enemies.

Tensions have also increased in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli troops killed two Palestinians who the army said attacked a checkpoint with a knife and gun near the southern West Bank city of Hebron early Sunday. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the two killed were aged 18 and 19 and belonged to the same family. No members of the Israeli forces were injured, the army said.

Palestinian Red Crescent rescue services said they recovered 14 bodies during an Israeli raid on the West Bank urban refugee camp of Nur Shams that began Thursday evening. Among those killed were three militants from the Islamic Jihad group and a 15-year-old boy. The army said it killed 10 militants in the camp and arrested eight suspects. Nine Israeli soldiers and officers were injured.

In another incident in the West Bank, an Israeli man was injured in an explosion on Sunday, the Magen David Adom emergency service said. A video circulating on the Internet shows a man approaching a Palestinian flag planted in a field. When he kicks, it appears to trigger an explosive device.

At least 469 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since the start of the Gaza war, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most were killed during Israeli military raids, which often trigger exchanges of fire, or during violent protests.

The war in Gaza was started by a Unprecedented October 7 raid in southern Israel during which Hamas and other militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped around 250 hostages. Israel says militants are he still holds around a hundred hostages and the remains of more than 30 other people.

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand new elections to replace Netanyahu and a deal with Hamas to release the hostages. Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are returned.

The war has killed at least 34,097 Palestinians and injured 76,980 others, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its count, but at least claims two thirds were children and women. It also says the actual toll is likely higher because many bodies are trapped under rubble or in areas inaccessible to doctors.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the militants fight in dense residential neighborhoods. The military rarely comments on individual strikes, which often kill women and children. The army claims to have killed more than 13,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jack Jeffery in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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