Israeli airstrikes kill at least 35 in Rafah: Authorities

GAZA CITY — Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens in an area designated for the displaced in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, according to Palestinian health and civil emergency service officials.

The Israeli military said its air force struck a Hamas compound in Rafah using “precise ammunition and on the basis of precise intelligence.”

The strike targeted Hamas’ chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official behind deadly attacks on Israelis, it said.

“The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited, several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review,” the military added.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, said 35 people were killed and dozens, most of them women and children, were wounded in the attack. The strike occurred in the Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood in western Rafah, where thousands of people were taking shelter after fleeing eastern areas of the city, where Israeli forces began a ground offensive over two weeks ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its field hospital in Rafah was receiving an influx of casualties, and other hospitals were also taking in a large number of patients.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri described the attack in Rafah as a “massacre,” holding the United States responsible for aiding Israel with weapons and money.

“The airstrikes burnt the tents, the tents are melting, and the people’s bodies are also melting,” said one resident who arrived at the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah.

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said eight projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, where Israel continued operations despite a ruling by the top U.N. court on Friday ordering it to stop attacking the city. Several projectiles were intercepted, and there were no reports of casualties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his war cabinet later on Sunday to discuss continued operations in Rafah. Israel argues that the U.N. court’s ruling allows room for some military action there.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades said the rockets were launched in response to “Zionist massacres against civilians.”

Rafah is located about 60 miles south of Tel Aviv.