Israeli strikes killed 31 Palestinians in Rafah after Netanyahu said a ground invasion was coming.

Rafah, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israeli airstrikes killed at least 31 Palestinians – a third of them children – in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday, hours after Israel's prime minister asked the army to plan to evacuate hundreds. Thousands of people ahead of the ground invasion.

Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide details or a timeline, but the announcement has begun Widespread panic. More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, which now occupies two-thirds of Gaza after many were uprooted by Israeli evacuation orders. It is not known where they will run next.

Israel says Rafah, which borders Egypt, is the last stronghold of the Hamas militant group after more than four months of fighting in Gaza. October 7 Hamas attack.

In Egypt's first public response to Netanyahu's announcement, Foreign Minister Samey Shogri warned that an Israeli ground attack on Rafah would have “catastrophic consequences” and insisted that Israel ultimately aims to expel Palestinians from their land.

Shogri also said that Egypt is acting Shorten the gap A permanent ceasefire between the fighting sides on October 7 in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the release of the remaining hostages. “Negotiations are complicated,” he said.

The public is also increasing Friction Between the Netanyahu and Biden administrations, its officials said the raid on Rafah would be carried out without a plan for civilians. lead to disaster.

Israel has carried out almost daily airstrikes in Rafah, even after telling civilians in recent weeks to seek refuge there from the ongoing ground war north of the city of Khan Younis.

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Between Saturday and Saturday, three airstrikes on homes in the Rafah area killed 28 people, according to health officials and Associated Press journalists. Each strike killed multiple members of three families, including a total of 10 children, the youngest 3 months old.

Fadel al-Khannam said a strike tore the bodies of his loved ones to pieces. He is survived by his son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.

He feared even worse with the ground invasion of Rafah, and said world peace helped Israel continue. “Until today, the world has not treated us fairly and given us our rights,” he said.

Later on Saturday, another strike killed three senior civil police officers, according to Rafah city officials.

In Khan Yunis, Israeli forces opened fire on the region's largest Nasser Hospital, killing at least two people and wounding five others, the Medecins Sans Frontières charity said.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Khitra said hospital staff could not move between buildings due to the heavy fire. He said 300 medical personnel, 450 patients and 10,000 displaced people have taken shelter there.

The Israeli army said its troops were not currently operating inside the hospital and called the surrounding area an “active war zone”.

About 80% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been displaced, and the territory has sunk into an enclave. Humanitarian crisis With food shortages and Medical service.

The Gaza death toll is over 28,000

Gaza's health ministry said on Saturday that the bodies of 117 people killed in Israeli airstrikes in the past 24 hours had been brought to hospitals, raising the total death toll from the attack to 28,064, mostly women and children. The ministry said more than 67,000 people were injured.

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Israel declared war after several thousand Hamas fighters burst across the border into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,300 and taking 250 hostage.

Israel has blamed Hamas for civilian deaths due to fighting from inside civilian areas, but US officials have called for more surgical strikes. President Joe Biden said this week that Israel's response was “over the top.”

“The goal of the war to eliminate Hamas cannot be achieved by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Netanyahu's office said Friday. It said he had ordered military and security officials to come up with a “coordinated plan” to evacuate civilians and destroy Hamas forces.

Israel's offensive has caused widespread destruction, particularly in northern Gaza, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Egypt warned The entry of Palestinians into Egypt would threaten the four-decade-old peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The mostly closed Rafah border crossing serves as a major entry point for humanitarian aid.

Rafah had a pre-war population of about 280,000, and the United Nations says it is now home to some 1.4 million additional people He ran away fighting to other places.

“Another bloodbath in Gaza cannot be allowed,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi warned at X.

More deaths in northern Gaza

Two Palestinian doctors were found dead on Saturday in an ambulance in the Tell al-Hawa area of ​​Gaza City, where they had been missing for 12 days. They rushed to rescue 6-year-old Hind Rajab, who had traveled with his family to obey evacuation orders.

The PRC had earlier released a recording of a call from Hind's relative, who said the car had caught fire and that she and Hind were the only survivors. Brother Mid Cal went in silence.

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The PRC said the rescue operation was coordinated with Israel's military, which had no comment.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.

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Find out more about AP's coverage https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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