On Monday, Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed 22 people and injured dozens, local health officials said. Residents reported that the heavy bombardment had caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes began. Some feared that Israel had begun its ground offensive on the Rafah.
Israel’s military announced that it had completed a “series of strikes” on southern Gaza but gave no further details. Before previous attacks on Gaza cities, the Israeli military ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.
US President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and urged Israel not to launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the approximately one million people there. Humanitarian agencies warned that an attack on Rafah would be catastrophic as it is the last relatively safe place in the enclave devastated by the Israeli military offensive.
Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, just days after Biden said Israel’s military response in Gaza was “too much” and expressed grave concern over the rising civilian death toll in Palestine. The Hamas-run Health Ministry reported that Israel responded with a military attack on Gaza Strip that killed more than 28,000 Palestinians. Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and kidnapped at least 250 in their incursion on October 7 according to Israeli figures. A senior Hamas leader stated that any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would “blow up” hostage exchange talks quoting Hamas-run Aqsa TV.