Israel attacks Rafah in retaliation to Hamas rocket attack

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Three Israeli soldiers were killed near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah in a rocket attack claimed by Hamas, where Palestinian health officials reported at least 19 people were killed by Israeli fire on Sunday.

Hamas’ armed wing assumed responsibility for the attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military said 10 projectiles were launched from Rafah toward the crossing, prompting the closure of this passage to aid trucks entering the coastal enclave. Other crossings remain open.

Following the Hamas attack, Israeli airstrikes targeted a house in Rafah, killing three people and injuring several others, Palestinian medical authorities reported.

The Israeli military confirmed these counterstrikes, stating they hit the launcher from which the Hamas projectiles were fired and a nearby military structure. “The launches by Hamas adjacent to the Rafah Crossing demonstrate the terrorist organization’s systematic exploitation of humanitarian facilities and spaces, and their continued use of the Gazan civilian population as human shields,” a military spokesperson said.

Hamas denies using civilians as human shields.

Later, just before midnight, an Israeli airstrike in Rafah claimed the lives of nine Palestinians, including a baby, increasing Sunday’s death toll to at least 19, according to Gaza health officials. Amid escalating violence, Israel has expressed its intention to enter Rafah to confront Hamas forces directly. However, this operation faces significant international pressure to pause, as it could jeopardize ongoing humanitarian efforts in Gaza and risk additional civilian lives.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed, including 29 in the past 24 hours, and over 77,000 have been injured in Israel’s ongoing military actions, Gaza’s health ministry stated.