On Monday, Israeli strikes on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah killed 22 people and wounded dozens, local health officials said. This came after U.S. President Joe Biden told Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible plan to protect civilians. Residents contacted by Reuters reported that heavy bombing caused widespread panic in Rafah, as many people were asleep when the strikes started.
The Israeli military said it had conducted a “series of strikes” on southern Gaza that have now “concluded,” but did not provide further details. Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.
Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and told him not to launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there. Aid agencies warned that an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic, as it is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.
Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to Hamas-run tallies. Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted at least 250 in their October 7 incursion, according to Israeli tallies. A Hamas-run leader said any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah will “blow up” the hostage-exchange negotiations.