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Israeli Strikes Kill 67 in Rafah; Two Hostages Freed in Raid by Israeli Special Forces

HeadlineFeb 12, 2024

Palestinian health officials say Israeli strikes killed at least 67 people in Rafah overnight as fears grow Israel will soon launch a ground invasion on a city where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge. The overnight airstrikes came as Israeli special forces raided a home in Rafah in an operation to free two Israeli Argentine hostages: 60-year-old Fernando Simon Merman and 70-year-old Luis Har. They were both found to be in good condition after being held captive since October 7.

On Sunday, President Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said Biden warned Netanyahu against a ground invasion of Rafah unless there is a “credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.” Authorities in Egypt have threatened to suspend a key peace treaty with Israel if Rafah is invaded. Hamas has also warned an Israeli invasion of Rafah will torpedo ongoing truce talks. The European Union has also warned against a ground invasion of Rafah, with one top EU official saying it could lead to an “unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.”

Israel carried out numerous airstrikes on Rafah over the weekend, including one that leveled a five-story home, killing at least eight people.

Enas Amer: “I am searching for my niece. She was 2 months old. … My sister and her husband are sleeping there in the room, and my mother and my other sister with her children in the living room, me and my father in the room over here. Suddenly, a rocket fell on us. My sister, her husband and their children, including my niece, who is 2 months old, all gone.”

This all comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces increasing pressure at home to secure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza. Earlier today, a relative of the two Israeli hostages freed in Rafah called for Israel to reach a deal now.

Edan Begerano: “And we know about the discussions in Cairo, or in Paris, in others, between the Hamas and between Israel, with the mediators. Please, be serious and strike a deal. The Israeli people need the deal done — not yesterday, not tomorrow, today. We want it done as soon as possible in order for to give us some breath. We must breathe a little bit here.”

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