Israeli air raid hits residence, kills at least seven in Gaza’s Rafah

Bodies seen scattered on road after Israeli forces hit a residential home in city filled with displaced Palestinians.

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip February 24, 2024. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli attack on a house in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Israeli forces have killed at least seven people, including a child, in Rafah, in the latest deadly attack on Palestinians struggling to survive in the southern Gaza Strip’s largest city.

An Israeli air raid hit a residential building belonging to the Shahin family on Saturday, housing displaced people from the Abu Hamra and Abu Sultan families, the Palestinian state news agency Wafa reported.

The air attack hit a busy road leading to a market, causing major destruction to buildings and cars, according to Al Jazeera’s team in Rafah. Bodies were seen scattered on the road, with women, children, and the elderly among the victims.

“My mother … my father … They ran for their lives from Khan Younis,” a man told Al Jazeera. “I brought them here to take shelter in my home … They escaped death in Khan Younis to die in my hands … How can I live after them?

Addressing the Israeli forces, he said, “Kill me, so I can join them.”

Another man told Al Jazeera that he was walking with friends towards al-Awda Hospital when all of a sudden “a massive explosion” occurred.

“I was thrown into the air and saw all those around me flying around, others torn to pieces,” he said. “I passed out and woke up to find myself here in the hospital. The Israeli warplanes fired a missile on one residential building in a very crowded area; hundreds walking on the street, trying to get their hands on some food.”

“The Israeli occupying forces have no mercy; they have no mercy on the young or the elder, women or babies,” he added. “The Israelis have no respect to any law or human rights. They lost their humanity; targeting innocent displaced civilians; killing everyone, women and children, out of revenge.”

“The missile hit 20 metres [66 feet] from me and I miraculously survived by the grace of God.”

SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB Palestinians attend to a casualty, at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip February 24, 2024. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians attend to a casualty, at the site of an Israeli attack on a house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Rafah said the victims have been taken to Yusuf al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

“The area shook as if an earthquake hit it; there was complete destruction and fire everywhere,” he said.

“Cars were incinerated and people on the sidewalks were critically injured. Victims were also pulled from under the building’s rubble.

“Seven people were reported killed, five of whom have been identified. Two of them could not be identified as they were incinerated beyond recognition.”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, Israeli forces committed eight “massacres against families” in the Gaza Strip, killing 92 people in the last 24 hours.

The ministry added that Israeli forces have stopped ambulances and civil defence crews from reaching victims buried beneath the rubble and lying on roads.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since the October 7 cross-border attack by Hamas, killing more than 29,600 Palestinians and causing mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 people have been injured in the besieged enclave.

About 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

According to the UN, severe food insecurity is at a catastrophic level throughout the Gaza Strip, with increasing reports of families struggling to feed their children, and an increasing risk of starvation-related deaths in the northern area of the strip.

“The risk of famine in Gaza is increasing by the day, particularly for an estimated 300,000 people in northern Gaza who have been predominantly cut off from assistance and where food security assessments show the greatest needs,” according to the World Food Programme.

‘Talks are progressing’

With more Palestinians dying with each day of Israel’s war on Gaza, negotiations for a deal for a ceasefire have continued.

The Israeli war cabinet is set to meet on Saturday to be briefed by negotiators who held talks in Paris with representatives of the United States, Israel, Egypt and Qatar on a possible truce, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser said.

Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel’s Channel 12 that the cabinet meeting “shows that they [the negotiators] did not come back empty-handed”.

Reports emerged earlier on Saturday that a new draft for a captive deal had been agreed in the Paris meeting.

The updated outline proposes that Hamas releases around 40 captives held in Gaza in exchange for a six-week ceasefire and the freeing of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, sources told Axios.

CIA director Bill Burns, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Abbas Kamel, the director of Egyptian intelligence, participated in the talks.

The Israeli delegation included the director of Mossad, Shin Bet, and Israeli Forces intelligence, who will brief the war cabinet later Saturday or Sunday.

If the cabinet approves the new proposal, follow-up meetings will take place in the coming days.

Axios reported that Biden administration officials said they want to try to get a deal before the start of Ramadan on March 10.

According to a source cited by Israeli media, further details of the negotiations, such as the number and identity of the prisoners to be released, still depends on Qatari and Egyptian negotiators getting Hamas to agree to the new proposal as well.

A foreign diplomat told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “the talks are progressing” and as “all parties are showing flexibility, a deal can be reached before [the holy month of] Ramadan”.

“Any further progress is at the hands of Hamas,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies