Israel intensifies strikes on Gaza’s Rafah, killing large family in home


Neighbours, relatives around bombing site vent anger at US for vetoing UNSC resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza
Israel intensified its bombardment of Rafah in Gaza’s south, killing over a dozen members of one family in an air strike, residents said, as the death toll in the ruined Palestinian enclave reached 29,313 since October 7, last year.
In Jerusalem, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz cited “promising early signs of progress” on a new deal to release hostages held by Hamas resistance fighters in Gaza amid talks conducted by the United States, Egypt and Qatar to secure a pause in the war.
The Israeli army (IDF) said it had stepped up operations in Khan Younis, a city just north of Rafah. It made no mention of attacks on Rafah itself in its daily summary of events in Gaza and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
About 1.5 million people are estimated to be crammed into Rafah, on the southernmost fringe of the enclave close to the border with Egypt, most of them having fled their homes further north to escape Israel’s military onslaught.
The flow of aid entering Gaza from Egypt has almost dried up in the past two weeks, and a collapse in security has made it increasingly difficult to distribute the food that does get through, according to UN data and officials.
Israel has said it is preparing for a ground assault on Rafah, despite mounting international opposition, including from staunch ally the United States, over fears for civilian lives.
Rafah residents reached by text message reported several Israeli air strikes and large explosions in the city, as well as naval boats opening fire on beachfront areas.
Reuters video journalists filmed the aftermath of a strike on the home of the Al-Noor family in Rafah, which was reduced to rubble, showing over a dozen bodies wrapped in white or black shrouds and bereaved relatives at a Rafah hospital.
Abdulrahman Juma said his wife Noor, who was from the Al-Noor family, as well as his one-year-old daughter Kinza, had both been killed in the strike, along with Noor’s parents, brother and other relatives.
Juma was holding Kinza’s body, wrapped in a bloodstained white shroud. “This one, who is on my lap, took my soul away … She is one-and-a-half years old,” he said.
Israel continues to claim that Hamas fighters use civilian buildings as cover despite repeated denials by the group.
Local residents also said Israeli tanks had advanced west from Khan Younis into Al-Mawasi, previously an area of relative safety where the army had told Palestinians to seek shelter. The tanks reached the coastal road, effectively cutting off Khan Younis and Rafah from the rest of the Gaza Strip, though they retreated after a few hours, according to residents.
Gaza’s health ministry said on Wednesday 69,333 people had been injured in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7, in addition to 29,313 deaths, with 118 killed in the past 24 hours.
On October 7, Hamas fighters raided into southern Israel (occupied Palestinian territory), killing 1,200 Israeli settlers and taking 253 of them hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground blitz on Gaza that has displaced most of the population of 2.3 million, caused widespread hunger and laid waste to much of the territory.