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Israel pounds Gaza after rescue operation that killed 274 Palestinians

Written by on June 9, 2024

Israeli continued to pound Gaza Sunday, a day after Israeli forces rescued four hostages during an operation that left at least 274 Palestinians dead, among them 64 children and 57 women, according to the Hamas-run government media office.

The Israeli military said a special forces officer was killed during the bloody rescue operation in a densely built residential neighborhood of al-Nuseirat, adding that it knew of “under 100” Palestinians killed, though, it said, it did not know how many of them were fighters or civilians.

The Israeli military said in a statement its forces were continuing operations east of Bureij and the city of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, killing several Palestinian gunmen and destroying militant infrastructure.

Tanks rolled into two new districts Sunday surrounding the entire eastern side of Rafah and engaging against dug-in Hamas-led armed groups, according to residents trapped in their homes there.

Around 100,000 people of the more than 1 million residents and refugees who occupied Rafah a month ago remain in the city — after fleeing Palestinian refugees abandoned their latest refuge heading farther north according to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.

“All UNRWA shelters in Rafah have been vacated. Many of the people who were based in Rafah have fled up the coast seeking safer locations in both Khan Younis and the middle area [of Gaza],” UNRWA said in a statement.

Palestinian medics said an Israeli airstrike on a house in Tel Al-Sultan in western Rafah killed two people Sunday.

The Israeli military said troops of its 162nd division were raiding some districts of Rafah where they had found “numerous additional terror tunnel shafts, mortars, and [other] weapons” belonging to Palestinian Islamist militants.

Palestinians children search through the rubble of their home a day after an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on June 9, 2024.
Palestinians children search through the rubble of their home a day after an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on June 9, 2024.

“Israel does not surrender to terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will not let go until we complete the mission and return all our hostages home — both the living and the dead,” he said, speaking after the rescue operation in the situation room Saturday.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the hostage rescue mission was challenging. Israeli troops operated “under heavy fire in the most complex urban environment in Gaza.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday in a statement that “our people will not surrender, and the resistance will continue to defend our rights in the face of this criminal enemy.”

In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the best way to bring all the hostages home is a comprehensive cease-fire and hostage deal that has been endorsed by President Joe Biden as well as 16 countries from around the world and accepted by Israel.

Sullivan said that the ball is in Hamas’ court in accepting the deal that outlines a political and humanitarian strategy and offers “a logical strategic endgame.”

“If Hamas would say yes to that deal, there would be a cease-fire in place, hostages would be coming home, more humanitarian aid would be surging in, and a better day for the Palestinian people would begin to unfold,” he said.

However, Sullivan acknowledged that Israel has not yet offered a clear plan for the governance of a post war Gaza after a cease-fire agreement would be signed but he expressed hope that a solid vision would materialize in the coming weeks.

“We will be building towards a future in which Israel is secure, the Palestinian people have a future of freedom and dignity and self-determination, Israel is integrated into the region with better relations with its Arab neighbors, and the region overall is more stable and secure, which is deeply in America’s interests,” he said.

In an effort to revive the stalled cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to the Middle East this week.

His three-day trip will include stops in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Qatar.

So far, Israel’s offensive has killed at least 37,084 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its figures.

The October 7 terror attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to official Israeli figures. Hamas militants took 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in the Palestinian territory, including 41 the army says are dead.

 

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.


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