In the southern city of Rafah in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes have resulted in the deaths of 22 people and numerous injuries. The bombings, which began while many people were asleep, caused widespread panic in Rafah, with some residents fearing an impending ground offensive by Israel.
After conducting a series of strikes in southern Gaza, the Israeli military has stated that these operations have now concluded. However, they have not provided further details about the strikes and the impact on civilians in the area.
US President Joe Biden has warned Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible plan to protect the civilians who are sheltering there. The Israeli military has a history of ordering civilians to leave the area prior to attacks without providing a specific evacuation plan. Aid agencies have expressed concern about the potentially catastrophic impact of an assault on Rafah, as it is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by military offensive.
In a conversation between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US leader expressed grave concern over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. Hamas militants have also been involved in the conflict, with Israeli tallies reporting the death of 1,200 people in southern Israel and the abduction of 250 people during an incursion on October 7. In response, Israel has conducted a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has resulted in more than 28,000 Palestinian casualties.
This tense situation has led to threats from senior Hamas leaders about the potential consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, particularly in regard to ongoing hostage-exchange negotiations.