In the southern city of Rafah in Gaza, 22 people have been killed and many more injured as a result of Israeli airstrikes. The bombings, which occurred while many people were sleeping, caused widespread panic among residents who feared an impending ground offensive by Israel.
The Israeli military has announced that their operations in southern Gaza have come to an end, but they have not provided any further information about the strikes or their impact on civilians in the area. US President Joe Biden has issued a warning to Israel not to attack Rafah without first providing a credible plan to protect the civilians living there. The Israeli military has a history of ordering civilians to evacuate prior to attacks without providing any specific evacuation plans, which has raised concerns among aid agencies about the potentially catastrophic impact of an assault on Rafah.
During a conversation between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US leader expressed grave concern over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. Hamas militants have also been involved in the conflict, with Israeli tallies reporting that 1,200 people have been killed and 250 people abducted during an October 7 incursion into southern Israel. In response, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that resulted in more than 28,000 Palestinian casualties.
This tense situation has led to threats from senior Hamas leaders regarding the potential consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, particularly with regards to ongoing hostage-exchange negotiations.