Dozens killed in Israeli strikes ahead of Rafah ground assault

Israeli air strikes killed 28 Palestinians, including ten children, in Rafah early on 10 February, after the Israeli military intensified air raids ahead of a coming ground invasion.

The killings came hours after aid agencies warned that huge numbers of Palestinians will die if Israel moves forward with a planned large-scale military offensive on the southern Gaza border city, where some 1.3 million Palestinians are living, including hundreds of thousands in tent cities.

“There is a sense of growing anxiety, growing panic in Rafah,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UNRWA agency, told Reuters. “People have no idea where to go.”

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the army was ordered to develop a plan “for evacuating the population and destroying” four Hamas battalions said to remain in Rafah.

“No war can be allowed in a gigantic refugee camp,” said Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, warning of a “bloodbath” if Israeli ground forces invade Rafah.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the Israeli goal is to forcibly expel Palestinians to Egypt in a repeat of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba.

“Taking this step threatens security and peace in the region and the world. It crosses all red lines,” Abbas’ office announced.

An anonymous Israeli official claimed Israel wanted Palestinians in Gaza’s south to move back northwards, from where many of the displaced have come after their homes were destroyed by Israeli bombing.

BREAKING: 12 days after being missing following an Israeli shelling on her family car, the body of the six-year-old girl Hind Rajab, along with the bodies of five of her family members, have been found in the Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.

Medical sources reported that… pic.twitter.com/oPM76nYGBH

— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) February 10, 2024

A 6-year-old Palestinian girl, Hind Rajab, was found dead on Saturday. Israeli forces opened fire on the car she was riding in with her relatives late last month. All were initially killed except Hind and her cousin, 15-year-old Layan Hamadeh, who called for help using a cell phone. While on the phone with emergency services, Israeli forces opened fire and killed Layan.

Hind then spoke on the phone while waiting for an ambulance to save her.

“Come take me. Will you come and take me? I’m so scared, please come!” Hind can be heard saying in a recording of the call to responders.

Israeli forces then opened fire and killed the two ambulance workers dispatched to find her, leaving Hind’s fate unknown until now.

BREAKING| First scenes of the ambulance, which headed to save Hind.

The bombarded ambulance is located only a few meters away from the car where Hind was surrounded. Burnt remains of the paramedics were found inside. pic.twitter.com/HF9LgVVEwT

— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) February 10, 2024

Israel’s continued bombardment, siege, and ground operations are making it difficult for aid groups, including UNRWA, to facilitate the entry and delivery of food into the besieged enclave.

Reuters added that “almost one in 10 Gazans under the age of five are now acutely malnourished, according to initial UN data from arm measurements showing physical wasting.”

Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, warned last week that unless Israel’s armed campaign is soon stopped, “Gaza will be in famine.”

De Waal explained that “Israel is knowingly creating these conditions, because it has been warned, and warned repeatedly, and yet it has continued. And so that makes it culpable. And regardless of the intent, the crime is being committed.”

Israel’s bombing and ground campaign have killed 27,947 Palestinians and injured 67,459 more, the majority women and children. More could be buried under the rubble of apartment blocks and homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and shelling.

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