Israeli strikes kill 100 Palestinians in 48 hours as US repeats Rafah invasion warning

At least 16 people including children lost their lives in attacks on three houses in the southern city

A mourner reacts during the funeral of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes, in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, on Monday. Reuters
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Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 100 Palestinians in 48 hours as the White House repeated it will not endorse an invasion of the southern city of Rafah without a plan to evacuate civilians.

Air strikes on three homes in Rafah in the early hours of Monday left 21 people dead, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge in the city having been displaced from elsewhere in Gaza.

Four others were killed in later strikes on the city, taking Monday's death toll in Rafah to 25.

A total of 34 Palestinians were killed from Sunday morning to Monday, after 66 people were killed and 138 others injured between Saturday and the early hours of Sunday, according to figures from the Palestinian health ministry.

Other civilians, including women and children, were killed in shelling, air strikes and drone attacks in central and northern parts of the coastal enclave as Israel continued its relentless bombing campaign against Hamas.

One of the houses attacked in Rafah belonged to Osama Al Khateb, who lost two of his daughters and a brother.

He suffered injuries and was rescued from the rubble of his home.

"We were sleeping when suddenly the shelling happened," he told The National. "I woke up and found myself under the rubble."

In another house, Sanaa’s two daughters and son were killed in one of the strikes.

"My two little girls passed away and the last thing I said to them was to pray for the war to end," the grieving mother said. "I didn’t know that their lives would end, not the war."

According to residents, 10 people, including two children, were killed in the strike on the third house.

"They targeted the house with heavy bombs, causing extensive damage, affecting more than four houses with the shelling," Mahmoud Abu Yonis, who lives in the house next door, told The National.

Israel’s war in Gaza since the Hamas attacks on October 7 that killed about 1,200 Israelis, has resulted in the death of more than 34,400 Palestinians with at least 77,500 injured, including thousands of women and children.

Clear position

The latest Israeli strikes came as an invasion of the southern city of Rafah looked imminent, prompting fears of another major humanitarian catastrophe amid stumbling efforts to reach a truce deal to pause the war and enable the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas fighters.

Almost 2 million people have taken refuge on the border between Egypt and Rafah.

US President Biden repeated "his clear position" on Rafah to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

Tension has increased between the two over Israel's war in Gaza, particularly over Rafah, considered the last enclave of relative safety for Palestinians.

The White House said the two leaders spoke by phone and Mr Biden "reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security".

They reviewed “ongoing talks to secure the release of hostages together with an immediate ceasefire in Gaza” and “increases in the delivery of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including through preparations to open new northern crossings starting this week”.

“The leaders discussed Rafah and the President reiterated his clear position,” the statement said.

The White House has emphasised it does not want Israel to invade Rafah without a plan to evacuate civilians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Washington to block an Israeli Rafah invasion, warning the incursion could come “within days".

He told the World Economic Forum in Riyadh "a small strike is all it takes to force everyone to leave Palestine … [the US is] the only country that can prevent Israel from perpetrating that crime”.

Developments in Palestine dominated the last day of the World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrived in Riyadh on Monday morning to meet Saudi and Arab officials.

Speaking in the opening plenary session on Monday morning, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said western countries must take a more principled position on Gaza.

He acknowledged “many of our colleagues hesitated to use the same type of language on violations of international humanitarian law” in Gaza as they did in Ukraine.

He added "the wrongs in Gaza don't make the wrong in Ukraine right".

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said his government will spare no efforts to ensure that a Rafah invasion is evaded.

“It will be a catastrophic measure,” he said in reference to an attack on Rafah.

Updated: April 29, 2024, 5:04 PM