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Dozens of Palestinians killed in Rafah as Israeli ground offensive looms

GAZA (Xinhua) -- Dozens of Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah in the past 24 hours, as Israel threatened to launch a military operation in the city currently holding more than half of the strip’s population, Palestinian medical and security sources said on Saturday.

A tractor is seen in a protest in Rome, Italy, Feb. 9, 2024. Farmers in Italy, Poland, Spain and Bulgaria have staged new protests this week against excessively restrictive European Union regulations and cheap imports from non-EU countries.

In the most recent Israeli raids, three members of Hamas’ security forces were killed after a vehicle was targeted in the Sultan neighborhood, west of Rafah, Palestinian security sources told Xinhua.
According to medical sources, at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting three residence houses in Rafah.
Fadel Al-Ghannam, the owner of one of the targeted houses, told Xinhua that the family woke up to the sound of a large explosion after the house was hit directly.
Al-Ghannam, also an employee at the Palestinian Authority (PA), said the Israeli army “targets civilians with the aim of killing amid international silence, but we are steadfast and will not leave.”
Meanwhile, Mayor of Rafah Ahmed Al-Sufi warned that, “Israeli bombings have escalated in recent hours in Rafah, paving the way for a military operation in the city.”
He called on the international community to take action to prevent Israel from carrying out a military offensive in the city, which is currently inhabited by more than 1.4 million Palestinians, stressing that any military action would lead to a “massacre” and a bloodbath.
Al-Sufi added that “the situation in Rafah is currently tragic, especially since the aid that enters through the Rafah crossing is only sufficient for 10 percent of the city’s population. If this continues, we will be on the verge of a famine.”
The intensified attacks on Rafah came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday instructed the army to prepare a plan for a ground operation in Rafah.
Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the prime minister has ordered the army and the security establishment to submit to the cabinet “a combined plan for evacuating the (Gaza) population and destroying the (Hamas) battalions” in Rafah, which was previously considered a safe zone from Israel’s relentless bombardments.
He said a powerful ground operation is needed to “eliminate Hamas militants who are still holed up in southern Gaza, but the population should be allowed to evacuate.”
The Hamas-run government media office warned Saturday of a “global catastrophe” if Israel carries out a military operation in Rafah.

(Latest Update February 12, 2024)

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