Israeli Strikes on Rafah Displacement Centre Result in Dozens of Deaths; Trade Unions Warn of Protests

Gaza officials have reported that Israeli airstrikes targeted a displacement centre near the southern city of Rafah, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. The Gaza health ministry, managed by Hamas, stated that the attacks killed 35 individuals and injured dozens more, primarily children and women. The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza labeled the incident a “horrific massacre,” as it struck a United Nations agency centre for Palestinian refugees.

The Israeli military confirmed that their aircraft targeted a Hamas compound in Rafah, claiming the lives of two senior Hamas officials, Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar. They acknowledged reports of civilian casualties and are currently reviewing the incident.

Amidst escalating tensions, Israel has faced rocket fire from Rafah, including attacks targeting Tel Aviv. This has prompted Israel to launch a ground operation in Rafah, despite concerns for the safety of civilians.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported transporting numerous casualties, while the Palestinian presidency in the West Bank condemned the strikes as a “heinous massacre,” accusing Israeli forces of intentionally targeting displaced persons’ tents. Gaza’s civil defence agency reported at least 50 casualties in the area, which houses approximately 100,000 displaced individuals.

Hamas has called for Palestinians to protest against what they term a “massacre.” Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains firm in his stance against Hamas, refusing to halt military operations without a decisive outcome. Amid ongoing diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire and a hostage-release deal, Netanyahu’s office stated that Hamas’s demands for an end to the conflict and the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from Gaza are unacceptable.

International responses have included EU members Ireland and Spain, as well as Norway, recognizing the State of Palestine, a move that has drawn criticism from Israel. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell emphasized the need for a strong Palestinian Authority to achieve peace.

US President Joe Biden has urged renewed international efforts to stop the conflict, which has been ongoing for eight months. The war has resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with over 35,984 deaths reported in Gaza and substantial civilian losses in Israel.

As the conflict continues, the plight of hostages held by Hamas remains a critical issue, with pressure mounting on Netanyahu to negotiate their release. The UN has warned of an impending famine in Gaza, where many hospitals have ceased functioning. The International Criminal Court has also taken steps, seeking arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas officials.

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