What we know about the Israeli attack on Rafah that killed 35 people

What we know about the Israeli attack on Rafah that killed 35 people

At least 35 people were killed in an Israeli attack on a camp for displaced people in Rafah on Sunday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and Palestinian medics.

Videos shared on social media showed a massive fire at the site, with paramedics and firefighters struggling to manage the aftermath of the strike. The targeted area included a large container used as a shelter for dozens of families, surrounded by hundreds of tents.

The Israeli army said it struck a Hamas compound in the area, killing two senior officers from the militant group.

Here’s what to know about the strike:

Attacks hit “safe zone”: Gaza authorities and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said the targeted area had been designated by Israel as a “safe zone” in Tal al-Sultan, northwest of Rafah. “The Israeli occupation forces have designated this area as a safe zone, calling on citizens and displaced persons to head to this safe area,” the Gaza government’s media office said. When displaced people seek shelter, they are attacked, the office said.
Rocket attack: The attack in Rafah came after Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv for the first time in months, according to the Israeli military, with sirens sounding in Tel Aviv and central Israel on Sunday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that eight rockets were fired from the Rafah area, and that “several projectiles” were intercepted. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
What the IDF said: The Israeli military said it struck a Hamas compound in Rafah and that it used “precise ammunition” based on “intelligence indicating use of the area by Hamas.” The IDF said it killed Yassin Rabia, who was the commander of the Hamas leadership in Judea and Samaria, and Khaled Nagar, who it said was a senior officer in Hamas’ wing for the same region. It said the attack, including harm to civilians, was now under review.
Casualties: Those killed and wounded were mostly women and children, the Gaza Ministry of Health said, adding that no hospital in Rafah had the capacity to take the number of casualties. PRCS said its ambulance crews were transporting a large number of people following the attack. And the Palestinian Emergency Committee in Rafah said dozens of people were killed in an attack on a tent when the fire broke out. Video obtained by CNN shows the tent-like structure burning.
What Hamas said: Hamas described the attack as a “massacre” and said it held the US administration and President Joe Biden personally responsible. It said Israel would not launch an attack “without American support and a green light to attack Rafah, even though it is crowded with displaced people.” Hamas called for immediate international intervention.
“No place is safe”: Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), expressed horror at the strike, saying it “shows once again that no place is safe.” The humanitarian group reiterated its call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. The President of the Palestinian Authority called on the international community to intervene immediately against what he called crimes against the Palestinian people.
ICJ verdict: The Rafah attack comes days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its attack on Rafah. The court considers the humanitarian situation in the city to be classified as “catastrophic,” the ICJ president said, adding that UN officials have indicated that the situation is set to get “greater” if Israel’s operation in Rafah continues. The court also ordered Israel to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid.
Remember: More than a million Palestinians — many displaced by Israeli attacks in other parts of the enclave — took refuge in Rafah before Israel began its operations there. Many have now fled, but say they have nowhere safe to go. Israel’s actions in Rafah have become a flashpoint for the unprecedented level of diplomatic pressure it now faces over the war in Gaza.

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