Israeli Strike Kills 31 In Gaza As US Envoy Jake Sullivan Meets Benjamin Netanyahu Amid Rafah Ops

Israeli airstrike kills 31 people, injures 20 at house in Nuseyrat refugee camp

Rafah, Palestinian Territories:

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Defense Authority said 31 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza during a visit by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to discuss the conflict.

Israeli forces have moved into the far southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, which the military calls Hamas’ last stronghold, and the United States says the fighting has displaced 800,000 additional civilians.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a Hamas militant group, said it was targeting Israeli troops with mortars stationed at the now-closed Rafah crossing, a key conduit for humanitarian aid.

Israel is also fighting and bombing resurgent Hamas forces in northern and central coastal areas previously thought to be under military control, and could become embroiled in a lengthy counterinsurgency operation. It has issued a warning to the United States.

In a recent night airstrike, the Gaza Civil Defense Agency said Israeli airstrikes killed 31 people and wounded 20 others in a house in the central Nuseyrat refugee camp.

The Israeli military said on Sunday that it was confirming reports that its aircraft had “attacked dozens of terrorist targets” in the past 24 hours.

Witness Yasser Abu Oula told AFP that the entire apartment complex had been “destroyed” and that “there are still bodies under the rubble”.

Jake Sullivan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to fight Hamas in the Gaza Strip until the Iranian-backed Islamic extremist group is defeated and all remaining hostages are freed after the October 7 attack on Gaza that started the war. I swore.

But he faces fierce opposition, including calls from his biggest ally Washington, massive street protests and now his wartime cabinet to unveil a plan for post-war governance of Gaza.

Amid the political turmoil, Mr. Sullivan met with Israel’s Tzachi Hanegbi and Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem to discuss the brutal Gaza conflict and the post-war scenario.

The White House said on Sunday that it had briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the “possibility” of a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia following talks in the region.

Sullivan added that he called on the Israeli prime minister to link military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip with a “political strategy” for the future of the Palestinian enclave.

The U.S. government has been pushing for a post-war plan for Gaza that involves the Palestinians and is supported by regional powers, as well as a wide-ranging diplomatic agreement between Israel and regional power Saudi Arabia to normalize relations.

Centrist Israeli politician Benny Gantz threatened on Saturday to leave the ruling far-right coalition over this issue alone. He called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to approve a post-war “action plan” by June 8.

Gantz called for steps to overthrow Hamas, return the hostages, and establish an “American, European, Arab, Palestinian administration to control civil affairs in the Gaza Strip.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes Gantz’s comments, saying they will lead to the “defeat of Israel” and the “establishment of a Palestinian state.”

“Next day” scenario

US President Joe Biden on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and said he was pushing for a regional peace deal to reach “the only solution, a two-state solution.”

The Gaza war erupted after Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli statistics.

Hamas also took around 250 hostages in the October 7 attack, of whom 124 remain held in Gaza, including 37 who the military says were killed.

Israeli retaliatory attacks against Hamas have killed at least 35,456 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians, according to data provided by the Hamas-run region’s health ministry.

Mourners gathered in central Israel on Sunday for the funeral of 22-year-old German-Israeli Shani Luke. The bodies were recovered by troops from Gaza on Thursday, along with three other deceased hostages.

“Almost” no aid

Israel has besieged the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, depriving its 2.4 million people of normal access to clean water, food, medicine and fuel, and their suffering is limited by sporadic aid by land, air and sea. It is only mitigated by transportation.

“Despite all calls by the international community not to launch an attack in Rafah, the attack actually began on May 6,” the head of the UN agency supporting the Palestinians said.

Since then, “about half of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee” again for safety, but “we continue to say there is absolutely nowhere to go,” UNRWA Director-General Philippe Lazzarini said in Amman. he told reporters.

Mr Lazzarini said that due to the fighting, “almost nothing has reached Gaza in terms of aid” and expressed concern that “recent gains in preventing looming famine could soon be reversed”. It’s increasing.

Truck arrivals have slowed since Rafah’s border with Egypt was closed when Israel launched an operation in the city.

Following a series of attacks on Gaza-bound trucks in Israel, a group of Israeli activists moved with a support convoy to protect the trucks on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said.

Aid has also begun to flow in through a temporary floating pier built by the United States, where cargo sent from Cyprus is offloaded for delivery.

The United Arab Emirates announced on Sunday that 252 tonnes of aid had arrived from Cyprus’ Larnaca port and was unloaded.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said that if severe fuel shortages are not alleviated, “the famine we have been talking about for so long, and which is looming, will no longer be looming. It will not exist.” “I will,” he warned.

“What we’re worried about is that the consequences will be really, really severe,” he told AFP in Qatar. “It’s hard, it’s difficult, it’s apocalyptic.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)