Israel kills 127 Palestinians in Rafah as the war on Gaza hits 121 days - as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 4 Feb 2024

The Israeli army intensified its bombing across Rafah, killing at least 127 Palestinians, including two children, as the deadly war on Gaza entered its 121st day. Simultaneously, Israeli forces attacked several parts of the occupied West Bank.

A picture taken from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows smoke rising over buildings in Khan Yunis following Israeli bombardment on February 4, 2024. Photo: AFP


22:15 Israel’s Channel 12 said that Hamas is unlikely to offer a response tonight to the Israel-Hamas captive deal brokered by Qatar and Egypt.

This runs contrary to earlier reports that said a deal was imminent between both sides.

Channel 12 added that Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar is looking to receive solid guarantees for an end to the Israeli war, a demand Israel has categorically refused, in addition to the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

Separately, Palestinian Quds News Network, citing a source close to Hamas, said that the two sides are not close to an agreement and that Hamas will in any case demand an end to the Israeli war.

20:30 Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Israeli airstrikes killed 17 Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Sunday

According to Wafa, 15 Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens injured in Israeli strikes on the city of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Local sources said Israeli strikes hit several homes at the centre of Deir al-Balah and in areas towards the west of the city.

The casualties come after heavy Israeli bombardment and attack drones were reported earlier in the day in the skies of the overcrowded city.

At the same time, Israeli warplanes targeted several areas in Gaza City and areas toward the east and west of the northern city.

In Khan Younis, two Palestinians were killed after a group of civilians who tried to reach their homes in the Tahlia area were targeted by Israeli warplanes at the centre of the city, Wafa reported, citing medical sources at the Gaza European Hospital.

Moreover, Israeli airstrikes and artillery shells rained down on residential blocks in the Bani Suhaila area, east of Khan Younis.

The majority of casualties in Israel’s war on Gaza are women and children.

Israeli forces have regularly prevented ambulance crews from reaching wounded and injured Palestinians in dire need of medical care.

Meanwhile, more than 8,000 Palestinians are believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed homes and buildings, over 4,400 of whom are children.

19:00 Israeli strikes and tank fire were reported on Sunday in Khan Younis, southern Gaza's main city, with some air raids also hitting nearby Rafah.

The Israeli army said its troops raided so-called "Hamas sites" and seized weapons in Khan Younis, also confirming air and naval strikes on the city.

In the evening, the army reported that it was advancing in the al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis, adding that they had raided several locations including the offices of an exchange store during the incursion.

The military seized more than 3 million Israeli Shekels in cash from the exchange store, the Israeli army said.

The Israeli army also claimed troops had killed Hamas operatives during the incursion as airstrikes were carried out on the southern city.

Since the start of the ground invasion of Gaza, the Israeli army has repeatedly reported “confiscating” money from homes and stores, saying it belonged to Hamas without providing any evidence to back such claims.

Earlier in the day, the Hamas government media office said a kindergarten where families were sheltering was hit in the southern border city of Rafah, which is teeming with Palestinians displaced by the war.

Israel has warned its ground forces could advance on Rafah as part of its ground invasion of Gaza, which according to UN figures now hosts more than half of Gaza's population

"There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, from north to south," displaced Palestinian Mohammed Kloub told AFP in Rafah

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza reported that at least 127 people were killed in Israeli strikes in the past 24 hours in the Gaza Strip, more than 90 of them overnight.

The death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza has risen to at least 27,365 people since 7 October, the ministry added, noting that a total of 66,630 people have been wounded in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

15:50 Heavy Israeli bombardment has struck Deir El-Balah, an overcrowded city in central Gaza, where many are seeking refuge.

The number of drones hovering in the skies has also increased here, following a few quieter days.

Reports indicate that one of the air raids targeted Al-Shuhada mosque, while two others demolished family homes, according to Al Jazeera.

Casualty reports suggest that tens of people have been killed and wounded in the attacks.

15:21 The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that the fate of their colleagues, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al Madhoun, from the PRCS EMS team, who went to rescue the 6-year-old girl, Hind, remains unknown for 6 days.

For over three hours, Hind has desperately pleaded with our teams for rescue from the occupation tanks surrounding her, enduring gunfire and the horror of being alone, trapped among the bodies of her relatives shot by the Israeli forces in front of her eyes.


15:00 UNRWA’s commissioner-general told the Financial Times (FT) that Israel has not presented evidence of its allegations that about a dozen UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October Al-Aqsa Flood operation.

Philippe Lazzarini said although he was taking the allegations against the organisation seriously, he could not comment on the progress of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services investigation.

The UN agency, he said, had been forced to respond to leaks in the media of an Israeli intelligence assessment.

The intelligence assessment, which has been seen by the FT, provides no evidence for the claims, which it says are based on smartphone intercepts and captured identity cards.

“In general, no one in Israel likes UNRWA’s mandate — and the more dogmatic they are, the more they want UNRWA to be eliminated,” said Lazzarini.

The Israeli allegations have led 15 donor countries to withdraw their funding to the UNRWA, a move that Lazzarini said could lead to the UNRWA being forced to end lifesaving assistance and operations in the Gaza Strip by the end of February.

Speaking from Jordan, he described the decisions by donors to cut funding to the agency as “rash”, “irrational” and driven by domestic considerations because of the polarising impact of the Israeli war.

At least 152 UNRWA employees have been killed by Israel’s attacks, and several schools have been hit by the Israeli army.

14:20 Here are some of the most recent photos from the occupied Palestinian territories.

People recite a prayer over the body of Alia Abu-Takia and others killed in an overnight Israeli bombardment, in front of the morgue of the Najjar hospital in Rafah.

People use a tractor as a means of transportation in Rafah.

 People find their way along a street devastated by the passage of Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers during raids, in the refugee camp of Balata in the occupied West Bank.

A young boy walks past a wall covered with posters bearing pictures of people killed during Israeli raids, in the refugee camp of Balata in the occupied West Bank.

14:17 Both Egypt and France reiterated their firm rejection of any forced displacement of Palestinians.

During a press conference following their meeting in Cairo, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his French counterpart Stephane Sejourne warned of the potential expansion of the conflict in the Middle East.

Shoukry stressed the need to work towards ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and achieving stability for both peoples and the region.

Sejourne, meanwhile, expressed concern about the Israeli bombing of Rafah on the border with Egypt.

During a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the French minister reiterated France's "commitment to a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and the relaunch of the two-state solution."


14:00 Hamas condemned the wave of American and British strikes on Yemen, warning the attacks would bring "further turmoil" to the Middle East.

Hamas in a statement called the bombing of Houthi targets "a blatant assault on the sovereignty of a sister Arab country, and an escalation that will drag the region into further turmoil."

13:50 Protesters obstructed the convoy of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

The protesters threw red paint on the ground next to the car and called him a "war criminal," shouting "blood on your hands."

Antony Blinken, whose country is a staunch supporter of Israel, is set to leave Washington on Sunday for the Middle East. He is scheduled to visit Qatar, Egypt, Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia.

However, Sejourne also said that "the recognition of the Palestinian state comes at the end of the political process that will follow the release of the captives and a permanent ceasefire. We will push in this direction, and I will speak about this issue in Israel."


13:46 The UNRWA said that access to clean water and sanitation is severely restricted due to ongoing Israeli bombardment in Gaza.

"The humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by limited aid deliveries and the destruction of infrastructure, putting thousands of vulnerable people at risk of disease."


12:53 Irish President Michael Higgins called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza. He emphasized the urgent need for action during a phone conversation with Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, late on Saturday.

"Any further extension of the bombing campaign into what is a densely populated area to which so many people have fled would leave any respect for humanitarian law in tatters," he said in a statement.

Stressing the critical importance of swift peace talks to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Higgins highlighted the somber reality of the situation, noting that the current death toll among UN Relief Work Agency (UNRWA) staff in Gaza stands at 152.

He remarked that "listening to the update which Dr. Ryan provided, it is clear that it is more vital than ever that the space for diplomacy be forefronted and supported as steps that are necessary for saving life and helping discussions towards peace."

Referring to the WHO’s latest Emergency Situation Update, Higgins highlighted that 70 percent of those killed by Israel in Gaza are women and children. He also cited UNICEF's findings that the Israeli war has left 17,000 children without parents, and 75 percent of the population of Gaza has been displaced.

He also called for the recognition of a Palestinian state. "Any rhetoric which suggests a future without such a state needs to be confronted directly."

12:25 Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups will give their answer to the proposed Gaza truce deal formulated at the Paris meeting of top US, Israeli, Egyptian, and Qatari officials, at 7pm Sunday, according to the Al-Hadath TV.

At the same time, Israel's war cabinet is also expected to convene, according to Israeli Ynet news.

On Saturday, a top Hamas official in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said that the proposed framework was missing some details.

The group needed more time to "announce our position," Hamdan said, "based on... our desire to put an end as quickly as possible to the aggression that our people suffer."

A Hamas source had said the proposal involves an initial six-week pause that would see more aid delivered into the Gaza Strip and exchanges of some Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, according to AFP.

11:59 The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for international sanctions on Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir as he is "a direct threat to the security and stability of the region."

"Ben Gvir challenges the international consensus on protecting civilians and securing their needs, and calls for the completion of the genocide and forced displacement of our people," the ministry said in a statement, in reference to his interview with Wall Street Journal.

11:00 The Palestinian health ministry reported that the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza has risen to at least 27,365 people since 7 October.

The latest update includes 127 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Additionally, a total of 66,630 people have been wounded in Gaza since the beginning of the war.

10:30 American legislation providing $17.6 billion in new military assistance to Israel was unveiled in the US House of Representatives, Reuters reported.

The funding bill, offered by a house appropriations panel, could come to a vote in the house sometime next week, Speaker Mike Johnson said in a letter to members.

According to the House Appropriations Committee, the $17.6 billion would include funds to help replenish Israel's missile defence systems, procure additional advanced weapons systems, and produce artillery and other munitions.

The Republican-controlled house had previously approved $14.3 billion in new military aid to Israel, but with the requirement that it be paid for by clawing back a chunk of money already targeted for the US Internal Revenue Service.

10:17 Israeli opposition Leader Yair Lapid and war cabinet Minister Benny Gantz slammed extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for his comments against US President Joe Biden to the Wall Street Journal, Times of Israel reported.

"The interview harms the security of Israel and mostly proves that Ben Gvir doesn’t understand anything in foreign diplomacy," Lapid said on X.

“Netanyahu has no control over the extremists in his government," he added.

Ben Gvir told the Wall Street Journal that Israel would be receiving more support from the US if former president Donald Trump had been reelected.

"Instead of giving us his full backing, US President Joe Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel to Gaza, which goes to Hamas," Ben Gvir said, adding that "if Trump was in power, the US conduct would be completely different."

Ben-Gvir, who has been convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism, has also called for encouraging the "voluntary" deportation of the residents of Gaza to places around the world by giving them financial incentives.

10:00 The Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the American and British attacks on Yemen on Saturday night, as “a repeated violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen and a flagrant violation of international law,” stating that such assaults contradict their claims of not expanding the scope of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Additionally, the Iranian Foreign Ministry added that the continuation of "American reckless actions is a clear adventure and a disturbing threat to international peace and security."

The US and UK launched joint airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen, following US strikes against militias in Iraq and Syria the day before, which killed dozens, including civilians. 

​It is the third time that British and American forces have jointly attacked the Houthis in Yemen, whose actions in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza have disrupted trade in the Red Sea.

In response, the Houthis stated that US and British attacks "will not deter us" and vowed to retaliate.

Houthi military spokesman Major Yahya Saree said the latest strikes "will not pass without response and punishment."

Saree reported a total of 48 airstrikes, saying on social media platform X: "These attacks will not deter us from our... stance in support of the steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip," where the Israeli war has raged since early October.


09:07 The situation in Gaza has gone from catastrophic to near collapse, the UNICEF said.

"Children need a humanitarian ceasefire. Now."

09:00 Another dark night descended upon 1.9 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah as the Israeli military intensified its bombardment across the city, targeting residential buildings and public facilities.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 92 Palestinians were killed overnight in the Israeli attacks, including two girls at a kindergarten, where displaced people had sought shelter.

Additionally, a number of Palestinians were critically injured.

Israeli forces also conducted operations in several parts of the occupied West Bank this morning, as reported by WAFA.

Local sources indicated that the Israeli troops raided parts of Jericho, including the Ein El-Sultan camp from the northern entrance and Anabta, east of Tulkarem.

They also raided the Balata camp, in Nablus, accompanied by a military bulldozer and snipers, engaging in heavy gunfire from multiple directions.

Short link: