On Monday, Israeli strikes on the southern city of Rafah in Gaza resulted in the deaths of 22 people and injuries to dozens, local health officials reported. The bombing caused widespread panic among residents who were asleep when the attacks began. After U.S. President Joe Biden advised Israel not to attack Rafah without a plan to protect civilians, Israeli military officials said that they had conducted “a series of strikes” on southern Gaza and that they had now concluded them without providing further details.
Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military had failed to provide any evacuation plans for civilians, raising concerns about their safety during such attacks. Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people living 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. Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes about their concerns over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza after U.S. leader expressed grave concern over Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip following Hamas militants killing 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducting at least 250 people during their October 7 incursion. Hamas-run Aqsa Television quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying that any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah will “blow up” hostage-exchange negotiations between Hamas and Israel.