On Monday, Israeli military strikes on the southern city of Rafah in Gaza killed 22 people and wounded dozens, local health officials said. After U.S. President Joe Biden told Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible plan to protect civilians, residents reported heavy bombing causing widespread panic in the city. Some feared Israel had begun its ground offensive into Rafah.
The Israeli military did not provide further details about the strikes but said they have now concluded. Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.
Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and urged him not to launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there. Aid agencies warned that an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic as it is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.
Israel’s military response in Gaza Strip has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to Hamas-run health ministry reports. Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and abducted at least 250 in their October 7 incursion, Israeli tallies stated. Hamas-run Aqsa Television quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying that any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah will “blow up” hostage-exchange negotiations.