Israeli Airstrike In Rafah Kills At Least 9 Palestinians, Including 6 Children – Foreign Affairs

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah late Friday, killed nine people, six of them children, according to hospital authorities Saturday.

Another overnight Israeli air assault struck the city of 2.3 million people bordering with Egypt and currently hosting more than a million refugees from other parts of the enclave devastated by the Israeli offensive.

The international community has called for Israel’s restraint on Rafah, and so far, Israel has not acted on its threats to launch an offensive on the city. It has not backed off its original position, however, that it intends to carry out a military offensive there. Israel maintains many of the remaining Hamas militants are holed up there.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday during a news conference at the G7 meeting in Italy that the Biden administration “cannot support a major military operation in Rafah.”

Blinken also said that “inevitably” a major military operation on the city would have “terrible consequences” for the civilians remaining there.

“First, there are currently somewhere around 1.4 million people in Rafah many of them displaced from other parts of Gaza. It’s imperative that people are able to get out of the way of any conflict, and doing so is a monumental task for which we have yet to see a plan,” the top U.S. diplomat underscored.

In central Gaza another strike hit a house in the urban refugee camp of Bureji, killing at least one man and injuring two others, according to authorities at the al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah. An Associated Press journalist witnessed the casualties.

The bodies of 37 people killed by Israeli strikes Saturday were brought to hospitals in Gaza. Another 68 injured persons were admitted to hospitals over the past 24 hours, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Saturday.

The latest figures bring the overall Palestinian death toll from the Israel-Hamas war to at least 34,049, and the number of wounded to 76,901. Two thirds of the overall numbers have been children and women, according to the Hamas-run health authorities.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul on Saturday, to discuss efforts for a cease-fire in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid there, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.

The United Arab Emirates said Friday it had launched a major relief operation in the Gaza Strip’s destroyed city of Khan Younis and plans to restore the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis so that it “can return to work,” the WAM news agency said.

But the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs said more needs to be done. The fighting, destruction of roads and prevalence of unexploded ordinance pose significant risks for humanitarian workers struggling to provide aid supplies in Gaza, it reported Friday.

Recent U.N.-led missions into 10 of Gaza’s beleaguered hospitals found many “in ruins” with only a few barely carrying out any level of maternal health services and with their vital medical equipment purposefully destroyed, according to Dominic Allen, the U.N. Population Fund representative for the State of Palestine.

Palestinian U.N. membership

The Palestinian Authority will reconsider bilateral relations with the U.S. after Washington vetoed a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership earlier this week, President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview Saturday with the official WAFA news agency.

Tehran denounced Friday the U.S. veto Thursday blocking full United Nations membership for Palestinians and called it “irresponsible” given the lack of opposition from any other Security Council member.

Hamas also decried the decision, while the Palestinian Authority said it showed “the contradictions of American policy,” which claims to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but at the same time “prevents the implementation of this solution.”

On Thursday evening, the United States cast a veto at the Security Council to block the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state. The United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained, and the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

Israel launched its offensive in response to the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures. Militants also took about 250 people as hostages.

In November, more than 100 hostages were released as part of a four-day pause in the fighting. Israel says about 130 hostages remain in captivity, but one-quarter of them are dead. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., U.K., EU and others.

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