Despite all warnings, the military is attacking the city in the southern Gaza Strip. The Gaza health authority reports 28,000 deaths since the start of the war.
Heaviest attacks on Rafah to date
According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli army has attacked targets in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, despite international warnings. Medical sources said more than 20 people were killed in airstrikes on two houses on Saturday. The mayor of the southern coastal city, Mohammed al-Sufi, also confirmed the number of victims to the German Press Agency.
Israeli soldiers also bombed a Hamas vehicle, killing three people, including the Islamist organization's head of police intelligence and his deputy, according to police sources and eyewitnesses on Saturday. Initially, no information could be independently verified. Initially, the Israeli military did not make specific comments. When asked, the military simply stated that it respects international law in its operations and takes precautions to keep harm to civilians to a minimum.
They were not the first reports of attacks against targets in the city near the border with Egypt. According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli army has attacked Hamas members' positions there more frequently in recent weeks. According to the information, Saturday's attacks were the most intense so far. Rafah is the only place along the entire coastal strip where Hamas still exercises control. (dpa)
Warnings about the dramatic consequences of an offensive in Rafah
In light of Israel's plans for an offensive on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, warnings are mounting about the dramatic consequences for the more than one million refugees stranded there. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) called Saturday's threatened attack on the online service X (formerly Twitter) a “humanitarian catastrophe with an announcement.” The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that there was no longer a safe place for the civilian population. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses reported new airstrikes against the completely overcrowded city.
The anguish in Rafah “is already incredible,” explained Foreign Minister Baerbock. 1.3 million people sought protection there from the fighting in a very small space and could not “disappear into thin air.” The radical Islamic group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, warned of a “catastrophe and massacre” that could lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered his army to present a “combined plan to evacuate the population and destroy Hamas battalions” in Rafah. It would be “impossible to achieve the goal of the war” if four Hamas positions were left in the southern Palestinian city, he argued.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the planned offensive, calling it a “flagrant violation of all red lines.” Saudi Arabia also warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” and called for the UN Security Council to intervene. The kingdom categorically rejects the attack and condemns the “forced deportation” of the people, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs broadcast by state media. (afp)
Two killed in airstrike in Lebanon
Two people were killed in an airstrike in Lebanon. The alleged Israeli attack took place about 30 kilometers south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in a predominantly Sunni region, security sources said on Saturday. According to eyewitnesses, the target of the drone attack was a car in Israel's northern neighbor. The dead are said to be two uninvolved civilians.
It was initially unclear who the attack was aimed at. According to informed sources in Lebanon, two occupants of the vehicle were taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Both the Shiite Hezbollah and the Palestinian organization Hamas denied that any members had been hit in the attack. According to Lebanese broadcaster Al-Majadin, it was an attempted attack against a Palestinian official.
Since the beginning of the Gaza war following the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, there have been repeated clashes between the Israeli military and militant groups such as Hezbollah in the Israel-Lebanon border region. It is the worst escalation since the second Lebanon war in 2006. (dpa)
More than 28,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza
According to local health authorities, 28,064 people have been killed in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war. In addition, there are 67,611 injured, according to the authority, dependent on the radical Islamic Hamas.
Syria shot down Israeli missiles for the second time in 24 hours, according to a media report. Citing a military source, Syria's official Sana news agency reported that the airstrikes came from the occupied Golan Heights and caused “some material losses.” The rockets were aimed at the surroundings of Damascus. However, Syria refrained from explicitly attributing responsibility to Israel. The Israeli military says it does not comment on foreign media reports. (rtr)
Baerbock: The offensive would be a “humanitarian catastrophe with an announcement”
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) warned of the possible consequences of an Israeli offensive on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. “An Israeli army offensive on Rafah would be a humanitarian catastrophe,” Baerbock wrote Saturday on the online service X, formerly Twitter. She also announced another trip to Israel.
The anguish in Rafah “is already incredible,” Baerbock explained. 1.3 million people sought protection there from the fighting in a very small space. “The population of Gaza cannot disappear into thin air,” Baerbock emphasized.
“Israel must defend itself from the terror of Hamas, but at the same time alleviate the suffering of the civilian population as much as possible,” the Foreign Minister wrote. Another ceasefire is necessary, also to achieve the release of more Hamas hostages.
“I will discuss how to get there next week in Israel,” Baerbock added. The Foreign Ministry said the minister would travel to Israel in the middle of next week. (afp)
Syrian army reports Israeli airstrikes near Damascus
Israeli airstrikes hit several locations on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, the Syrian army said on Saturday. The attacks came from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, state news agency Sana reported, citing an unnamed military representative. There were “some material losses.” Initially it was not known if there were any victims. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one of the strikes hit a residential building west of the capital. It is possible that “people of non-Syrian nationality” were killed. Saturday's Israeli attack was believed to be the 10th on Syrian territory since the beginning of the year.
Suspected Israeli strikes in Syria have killed senior members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and allied groups in the past. In December, a senior general in Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Sejed-Rasi Mousavi, was killed in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood. He long served as a military adviser to the Syrian government. (ap)
Attack on Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis
In Khan Yunis, the current focus of Israel's ground offensive, soldiers opened fire on Nasser Hospital, the largest clinic in the area, according to a spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Due to the intense shelling, medical staff could no longer move between different hospital buildings, spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said. There are 300 medical staff at the clinic, 450 patients and 10,000 displaced people who have sought protection there. (ap)
Netanyahu orders army to draw up evacuation plan
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Friday that he had ordered the army to develop a plan to evacuate the population of Rafah. Netanyahu said a large-scale military operation was needed in Rafah. He asked security officials to present a plan that would involve the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians from the city and a military operation to destroy remaining Hamas militant units. Israel says Rafah is the last remaining stronghold of the Islamist militant Hamas. (ap)