(CTN News) – Gaza health officials reported on Saturday that 18 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli air strikes in Rafah and Deir Al-Balah, as residents feared Israel would expand its ground offensive into the last remaining refugee camps.
Over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population has fled Rafah as Israel Defense Forces continue their nearly four-month-old war against Hamas militants. Rafah is situated on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.
According to Gaza health officials, an Israeli airstrike on a house in Rafah resulted in the deaths of 14 people, including women and children.
A confirmation of the strike was not provided by the Israeli military. In contrast to Hamas’ intentional attacks on Israeli men, women, and children, the IDF observes international law and takes feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm.
In recent months, Israel has been bombarding Gaza with deadly force, a response to Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7. As a result, Gaza has been left in ruins and there has been a wider conflict in the region as a result. As a retaliation for a deadly attack against US troops, the United States conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Friday against targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the militias it supports.
Over 27,000 Palestinians have been confirmed dead since the start of the war, 107 of them within the past 24 hours, and thousands more are believed to have disappeared amid the destruction. The Gaza health authorities do not distinguish between militants and civilians in their tallies.
Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7 after killing 1200 people and taking 253 hostages, of whom more than 100 remain captive, according to Israeli reports.
There are reports that Israeli officials plan on eliminating Hamas, which has pledged to repeat its October attacks, as well as repatriating the hostages, most of whom are women and children.
Over the past week, tens of thousands of people have arrived in Rafah carrying belongings in their arms and pulling children in carts since Israeli forces last week launched one of their most significant assaults on Khan Younis.
On Thursday, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli Defense Minister, announced that the Israeli forces would now move on to Rafah.