Israel kills at least 18 across Gaza as attack on Rafah intensifies

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 19 Jun 2024

Israeli air strikes and fighting between troops and Palestinian resistance groups rocked Gaza on Wednesday.

A four-year-old Palestinian child receives medical care at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, following dawn Israeli bombardment in Rafah, on June 19, 2024. AFP


Eighteen civilians have been killed since dawn Wednesday in the Israeli bombardment of different areas in the Gaza Strip, WAFA news agency reported.

Witnesses and the civil defence agency in Gaza reported Israeli bombardment in western Rafah, where medics said drone strikes and shelling killed at least seven people. 

Medical sources reported that another two Palestinians were killed after being targeted by Israeli forces fire.

The Israeli occupation army has announced a daily humanitarian "pause" in its attacks on a key road in eastern Rafah, however a UN spokesman said days later that "this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need".

Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group that has fought alongside Hamas, said its fighters were battling occupation troops amid Israeli shelling of western Rafah.

Witnesses reported seeing Israeli army vehicles enter the city's Saudi neighbourhood, followed by nighttime gun battles.

Parts of central Gaza also saw fighting overnight, with witnesses reporting artillery shelling and heavy gunfire in Gaza City's Zeitun neighbourhood.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 37,396 people since the war started, also mostly children and women, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

At least 24 people died over the past day, the ministry said.

In a message on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month.

But US, Qatari and Egyptian mediation efforts have stalled for months since a one-week truce in November that saw dozens of captives and prisoners freed and increased aid deliveries into Gaza.

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been shut since Israeli troops seized its Palestinian side in early May, while nearby Karm Abu Salem on the Israeli border "is operating with limited functionality", said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

He told reporters that in recent weeks, there had been "an improvement" in aid reaching northern Gaza "but a drastic deterioration in the south".

"Basic commodities are available in markets in southern and central Gaza. But... it's unaffordable for many people."

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