Israeli military says it killed 2 senior Hamas officials in Rafah strikes that left at least 35 dead

At least 35 Palestinians were killed Sunday in an Israeli strike on a Rafah tent encampment, Gaza health officials said, that the Israeli military claims targeted two senior Hamas officials.

The strike targeted a humanitarian zone in Rafah where the Israeli military previously instructed displaced Palestinians to shelter from attacks, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The ministry said most of the 35 dead were women and children, and that the death toll is likely to rise as “countless” are trapped in rubble.

The attack comes just days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its operations in Rafah, the last remaining major settlement in Gaza that has not been invaded by the Israeli military.

The Israeli military has slowly encroached on the city despite strong warnings from the Biden administration. President Biden warned earlier this month that he would stop military aid shipments to the country if it invaded Rafah without a plan approved by U.S. leaders to limit civilian casualties.

More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people are believed to be sheltering in Rafah, and more than 80 percent of the territory’s population overall is displaced from their homes. The United Nations said famine has begun in parts of Gaza as civilians struggle to get access to humanitarian aid.

More than 120 aid trucks entered Rafah on Sunday from Egypt, the first since the Israeli military seized the crossing earlier this month. It was not immediately clear if local aid groups could access the humanitarian supplies, however, The Associated Press reported, as fighting in the area has made humanitarian work difficult.

Much of southern Gaza, including Rafah, has been mostly cut off from humanitarian aid since the Israeli military began what it described as a limited operation into Rafah early this month. An American-built floating pier has begun to deliver some aid to the area, though aid groups say it is much less than promised and that there are not enough trucks to adequately distribute supplies.

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