Gazans flee towards Khan Yunis as Israeli army moves deeper into Rafah

‘Intelligence-based, targeted operations’ persist in Rafah area as strike kills eight in Gaza City and video clip shows wounded Palestinian strapped to a military jeep

Rubble and destruction close to the damaged United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees headquarters in Gaza City. Photograph: Omar al-Qattaa/AFP

Israeli tanks advanced further into Rafah on Sunday, reaching the edge of the Muwasi designated humanitarian zone, northwest of the southern Gaza city. Residents reported fierce fighting with militants, saying the Israeli advance had prompted some people to flee again, this time towards Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second-largest city.

Israel believes that thousands of Hamas fighters fled Rafah towards the Muwasi displaced persons camp to escape the Israeli onslaught. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it was continuing “intelligence-based, targeted operations” in the Rafah area and had located weapons stores and tunnel shafts and killed Palestinian gunmen.

Israel estimates the fighting in Rafah against the last standing Hamas battalions will last a few more weeks and will be followed by smaller operations in areas where the militant group attempts to reassert its military presence.

At least 42 killed in Israeli strikes on houses in Gaza City, ministry reportsOpens in new window ]

Medical sources in Gaza say eight people were killed on Sunday morning in an Israeli strike in the Gaza City neighbourhood of Sabra.


Meanwhile, the Israeli army has apologised after a video clip was released on social media showing a wounded Palestinian suspect strapped to the front of a military jeep during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. The IDF said the troops violated protocol and promised the incident would be investigated.

Israel has confirmed that Raed Saad, number four in Hamas’s military wing, was the target of Saturday’s massive attack in Gaza City’s Shati camp, in which more than 40 people were killed. There was no confirmation that he was killed.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, 37,600 Palestinians have been killed since the war began on October 7th. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 hostages seized in the surprise Hamas attack on that day. It says 120 hostages remain in Hamas captivity but it is not known how many are alive.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented on Sunday on his controversial video clip from last week in which he criticised Washington for withholding weapon shipments to Israel, describing such a reality as “inconceivable”.

When the only escape from war in Gaza is to buy a way outOpens in new window ]

Addressing the weekly cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu cited a “dramatic decrease” in arms from America over recent months, saying, “Certain items arrived in a trickle, but the main mass of armaments stayed behind.”

His comments came as defence minister Yoav Gallant met US officials in Washington, in his second visit since the start of the Gaza war, for talks expected to focus on the munitions crisis and a possible military conflagration with Lebanon. According to CNN, American officials promised Israel would get the full military assistance it needs for war against Hizbullah if it erupts.

According to Politico, administration officials are worried that Mr Netanyahu might use his address to Congress next month to criticise President Joe Biden for not having been sufficiently supportive of the operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. A senior American official described Mr Netanyahu’s video as being not at all helpful, and warned that he might make matters far worse in his address to Congress. A second senior American official said that no one knew what Mr Netanyahu was going to say in Congress.

Gaza’s historic heart, the Great Omari Mosque, lies in ruinsOpens in new window ]

With tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border growing, Canada sent troops to prepare to evacuate its citizens from Lebanon, and Kuwait over the weekend called on its citizens in Lebanon to leave the country immediately.

Lebanon’s minister of labour and transport Mostafa Bayram on Sunday denied a British Daily Telegraph report that Israel could target Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri international airport after Lebanese whistleblowers claimed Hizbullah is storing large quantities of Iranian weapons there, including ballistic missiles, rockets, anti-tank guided missiles and explosives.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem