Israel-Gaza latest: Fighting in Gaza to last seven more months at least, Israel says - as dozens more killed in Rafah | World News | Sky News

Israel-Gaza latest: Fighting in Gaza to last seven more months at least, Israel says - as dozens more killed in Rafah

The White House has said strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah both on Sunday and yesterday do not prompt the withdrawal of US military assistance to Israel. Meanwhile, the US has been forced to suspend aid deliveries into Gaza by sea.

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Houthis say they targeted six ships

Yemen's Houthis have said they targeted six ships in three different seas.

They confirmed they had targeted the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Laax, which was damaged after a Houthi missile attack off the coast of Yemen yesterday (see 9.18am post).

The Houthis also launched attacks against the Morea and Sealady vessels in the Red Sea, the Alba and Maersk Hartford in the Arabian Sea and the Minvera Antonia in the Mediterranean, military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised speech. 

The Iran-aligned group has launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea region since November, later expanding to the Indian Ocean, in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The group has managed to sink one ship, seize another vessel and kill two crew members.

Israeli tanks launch raids across Rafah

Israeli tanks have launched raids across Rafah for a second day today.

Israel sent its tanks into the heart of Rafah for the first time yesterday, defying an order from the International Court of Justice to end its attacks on the city.

Local residents said Israeli tanks had pushed into Tel al Sultan in western Rafah and Yibna and near Shaboura in the centre before retreating towards a buffer zone on the border with Egypt.

The armed wings of Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad said they confronted the invading forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs and blew up previously planted explosive devices. 

Israel's military said three soldiers had been killed and three others badly wounded in combat in southern Gaza, with Israel's public broadcaster Kan saying they were hurt by an explosive device set off in a building in Rafah.

Palestinian health officials said several people were wounded by Israeli fire in eastern Rafah and stores of aid were set ablaze.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, has reiterated its opposition to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, but stopped short of saying the violence had crossed Joe Biden's metaphorical red line.

No indication Israel will open Rafah crossing soon, Palestinian health minister says

There is no indication Israeli authorities will open the Rafah crossing to humanitarian aid soon, the Palestinian health minister has said.

Rafah had been a major entry point for humanitarian relief before Israel stepped up its military offensive on the Gaza side of the border earlier this month and seized control of the crossing from the Palestinian side.

The World Health Organisation has said the closure has significantly affected its ability to deliver essential medical supplies into Gaza.

"There is no indication when they want to open it," the Palestinian minister, Majed Abu Ramadan, said on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

"However, I would expect that all our friends and the international community to press hard, and especially the United States of America, they have to press hard in order to open that." 

Mr Abu Ramadan said the crossing's closure "complicates the situation", making it "really very, very catastrophic".

He added: "Regarding the health sector, more than 80% of our structures were wiped out, destroyed either totally or partially, including hospitals, nurseries, primary health care.

"Patients of cancer and blood diseases are dying because they cannot get their chemotherapy, and they cannot go out for radiotherapy. Many people lost their limbs, one or more, unnecessarily because there is no facility to treat them or the equipment."

Iran makes sea-launched missile available to Houthis, semi-official news agency reports

Iran has made its sea-launched Ghadr ballistic missile available to Yemen's Houthis, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency has reported.

"Iran's sea-launched ballistic missile, named Ghadr, now has been made available to Yemen's [Houthi] fighters," reported Tasnim, which is believed to be affiliated with Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

"Now, the missile… has become a weapon capable of presenting serious challenges to the interests of the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime."

Iran supports the Houthis but has repeatedly denied arming the group.

The Houthis have been attacking shipping in and around the Red Sea to show support for Palestinians, impacting the vital shipping route.

Palestinian PM visits Madrid after Spain recognises state of Palestine

The Palestinian prime minister has met his Spanish counterpart in Madrid after Spain, Ireland and Norway recognised a Palestinian state.

Mohammad Mustafa was joined by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari prime minister, and the foreign ministers for Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan.

More than 140 countries recognise a Palestinian state - more than two-thirds of the United Nations - and with Spain and Ireland there are now nine members of the 27-nation European Union that officially recognise a Palestinian state.

Both Madrid and Dublin are pushing for the EU to take measures against Israel for its continued attacks on Rafah.

Aid group condemns Israeli airstrikes in Rafah

The International Rescue Committee has condemned Israeli airstrikes in Rafah.

The aid group, which operates in Gaza, said the targeting of densely populated areas with displaced civilians was "a violation of international humanitarian law and completely unjustifiable".

At least 37 people have been killed in Israeli strikes in Rafah over the past few days (see 7.15am post), while 45 were killed in a deadly fire that swept through a camp for displaced Palestinians on Sunday.

Kiryn Lanning, the IRC's team lead in the occupied Palestinian territory, said: "These incidents reaffirm our repeated warnings that no place and nobody is safe in Gaza.

"Camps housing displaced people must never be targeted. The reports from the ground are extremely disturbing - with people trapped in the fire and burning tents.

"There was not a single evacuation order for these attacks given to civilians that have sought shelter in Rafah after being displaced from other parts of Gaza.

"The targeting of so-called safe zones, densely populated with displaced civilians, is a violation of international humanitarian law and completely unjustifiable.

"The high concentration of civilians in these zones makes it impossible to avoid significant collateral damage and high mortality rates during military offensives, even with precision targeting."

The IRC said it urgently called for Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, for an "immediate and permanent ceasefire" and the release of all Israeli hostages.

Fighting in Gaza will go on for seven more months at least, Israel's national security adviser says

Fighting in Gaza will likely go on for seven more months at least, Israel's national security adviser has said.

Tzachi Hanegbi said Israeli forces were in control of 75% of the Philadelphi corridor, a buffer zone along the border between Gaza and Egypt.

"Inside Gaza, the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] is now in control of 75% of the Philadelphi corridor and I believe it will be in control of it all with time. Together with the Egyptians, we must ensure weapon smuggling is prevented," he told Israel's public broadcaster Kan. 

He added that he expected fighting in Gaza to continue throughout 2024 at least.

'All eyes on Rafah' image shared millions of times on social media after Israeli airstrike

If you're on Instagram, it's an image you will likely have seen: orderly lines of tents stretching into the distance on dusty ground, white structures in the centre spelling out the words: "All eyes on Rafah."

On Instagram, a call to action to share the image also clocks the number of people who have added it to their stories: more than 37 million as of this morning.

On Sunday, an Israeli strike on the southern Gazan city of Rafah hit an area housing displaced Palestinians, setting their tents alight, according to Palestinian medics.

At least 45 people were killed, and footage verified by Sky News showed numerous bodies being pulled from the wreckage of destroyed buildings. In one video, a man can be seen carrying the body of a decapitated child.

The incident has reignited support for Palestinians on social media, with the "All eyes on Rafah" image shared by celebrities including Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan, singer-songwriter Kehlani, and one of India's top actors, Varun Dhawan.

Others, including pop star Dua Lipa, have shared different posts, with the words "All eyes on Rafah" included.

Read more here...

At least 36,171 Palestinians killed since October, Gaza health ministry says

At least 36,171 Palestinians have been killed and 81,420 wounded since 7 October, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

It said 75 Palestinians have been killed and 284 injured in the past 24 hours.

Separately, the ministry called for ensuring safe routes for the immediate entry of fuel and medical aid to Rafah and northern Gaza, according to a statement carried by Hamas media, quoting spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra.

The spokesperson also called for the setting up of field hospitals in those areas and the urgent entry of medical teams.

For context: While some Israeli officials have sought to cast doubt on fatality figures from Gaza, a number of independent groups say they have proved to be largely reliable and broadly in line with those later produced by the UN and Israel itself.

Examination of data from previous Gaza conflicts - the Hamas-run health ministry's counts compared with the post-war United Nations analysis - shows that the initial data is largely accurate with, at most, a 10-12% discrepancy.