Gaza: Rafah overnight airstrikes kill women and children despite refuge status

At least nine people, including children and women, were killed in airstrikes overnight in Rafah. Credit: AP

At least nine people, including children and women, have been killed in overnight airstrikes in Gaza's southern most city, Rafah.

Hospital staff and witnesses claim the bombardment came from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), but the IDF is yet to take responsibility for the attack.

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people have fled to Rafah, heeding Israeli evacuation orders ahead of the military’s expanding ground offensive.

Evacuation orders now cover the majority of the besieged enclave.

Even in areas of refuge, such as Rafah, Israel routinely launches air strikes against what it says are Hamas targets.

It holds the militant group responsible for civilian casualties because it operates from civilian areas.

Israeli ground forces are still focusing on the city of Khan Younis, just north of Rafah, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly warned this week that Rafah would be next, creating panic among hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Rafah was considered a point of refuge by displaced Palestinians. Credit: AP

Netanyahu’s words have also alarmed Egypt which has said that any ground operation in the Rafah area or mass displacement across the border would undermine its 40-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

The mostly sealed Gaza-Egypt border is also the main entry point for humanitarian aid.

Israel’s four month air and ground offensive, ignited by a deadly Hamas attack on October 7, has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, driven most people from their homes and pushed a quarter of the population toward starvation.

Hamas is still holding over 130 hostages taken from Israel, but around 30 of them are believed to be dead.

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