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A child looks on as smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah yesterday Alamy Stock Photo

Israel bombards Rafah as military says ground troops have carried out 'targeted raids'

Despite international objections, Israel sent tanks into Rafah yesterday and seized the nearby crossing into Egypt.


ISRAEL HAS BOMBARDED Rafah today as the military said ground troops conducted “targeted raids” in the southern Gazan city, with negotiations to halt the seven-month conflict underway in Cairo.

More than one million civilians are sheltering in Rafah after evacuating other parts of Gaza amid Israel’s offensive on the region.

Despite international objections, Israel sent tanks into Rafah yesterday and seized the nearby crossing into Egypt that is the main entry for aid into the besieged Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its “troops are conducting targeted raids on the Gazan side of Rafah crossing in the eastern part of Rafah”.

It added that it had struck over 100 targets across the Gaza Strip yesterday.

The White House has condemned the interruption to humanitarian deliveries, with a senior US official revealing Washington had paused a shipment of bombs last week after Israel failed to address US concerns over its Rafah plans.

The shipment had consisted of more than 3,500 heavy-duty bombs, the official said.

This was the first time US President Joe Biden had acted on a warning he gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April that US policy on Gaza would depend on how Israel treated civilians.

The Israeli military said today it was reopening another major aid crossing into Gaza, Kerem Shalom, as well as the Erez crossing.

However, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said the Kerem Shalom crossing – which Israel shut after a rocket attack killed four soldiers on Sunday – remained closed.

AFPTV footage showed Palestinians scrambling in the dark to pull survivors out from under the rubble of a Rafah building.

“We are living in Rafah in extreme fear and endless anxiety,” said Muhanad Ahmad Qishta, 29.

“Places the Israeli army claims to be safe are also being bombed,” he told AFP.

Displaced Gazan Marwan al-Masri, 35, said “the streets are empty” in Rafah’s western areas, and “life has completely ceased”. 

Ceasefire talks

Israel’s seizure of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing came after Hamas said it had accepted a truce proposal – one Israel said was “far” from what it had previously agreed to.

Talks involving Qatari, American and Hamas delegations aimed at agreeing a ceasefire are ongoing today in Cairo, said Al-Qahera News, which is linked to Egyptian intelligence.

It note that there were “points of contention” during the discussions, but also reported some “convergence” without elaborating.

A senior Hamas official said the latest round of negotiations would be “decisive”.

Hamas “insists on the rightful demands of its people” said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the negotiations.

The official had previously warned it would be Israel’s “last chance” to free the scores of hostages still in militants’ hands.

In Jerusalem, CIA director Bill Burns met Netanyahu to discuss the “possibility of Israel pausing the operation in Rafah in exchange for hostage releases”, an Israeli official said also on condition of anonymity.

Mediators have failed to broker a new truce since a week-long ceasefire in November saw 105 hostages freed, the Israelis among them in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.


Speaking to reporters at the Arbour Hill commemoration event today, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said he is “horrified” by events unfolding in Rafah, describing the levels of violence as “unconscionable”.

“It’s quite shocking, the level of human suffering,” Martin said. 

“The taking of the Rafah crossing, for example, creates huge challenges for humanitarian aid getting into Gaza. I have seen myself the amount of aid has been stopped already. There is an urgent need for medicines, for food and for the basics of life to get in for the people of Gaza,” the Tánaiste said. 

He said there needs to be an “immediate ceasefire”, along with the and the release of all hostages.

“Then, we need discussion on the political track on how Gaza is reconstructed because what the people have gone through there is quite horrific and it is shocking and unacceptable, it has to stop,” he added. 

gaza-gaza-palestine-7th-may-2024-palestinian-family-returns-to-their-home-in-khan-younis-after-the-evacuation-of-rafah-due-to-the-start-of-a-military-operation-there-credit-image-saher-a Palestinian family returns to their home in Khan Younis after evacuating Rafah Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Qatar, which has been mediating between the two sides, has appealed “for urgent international action to prevent Rafah from being invaded and a crime of genocide being committed”.

The African Union condemned Israel’s Rafah incursion, while Russia warned it would destabilise an area sheltering more than one million people and called on Israel to strictly observe international humanitarian law.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Rafah operation as “a very important step” in denying Hamas “a passage that was essential for establishing its reign of terror”.

Aid pier completed

The Pentagon, meanwhile, said the US military had completed construction of an aid pier off Gaza’s coast, but weather conditions meant it was currently unsafe to move it into place.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel might “deepen” its Gaza operation if negotiations failed to bring the hostages home.

“This operation will continue until we eliminate Hamas in the Rafah area and the entire Gaza Strip, or until the first hostage returns,” he said.

The conflict was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented 7 October attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel in response vowed to crush Hamas and launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,844 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Militants also took about 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 128 remain in Gaza, among them 36 the military says are dead. 

Includes reporting by Press Association and © AFP 2024