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Jerusalem, Feb 12 (EFE).- Hamas on Monday accused Israel of committing a massacre against Palestinian civilians in Rafah during an early morning operation, as Israel announced the rescue of two Israeli hostages.
At least 100 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in Israeli air strikes in the southern city of Rafah overnight, according to medical sources cited by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Places hit in around 40 air strikes included homes and mosques sheltering displaced people, including two in refugee camps, and extending to areas near the Egypt border, Wafa said.
“The attack by the Nazi occupation army on the city of Rafah tonight, and its horrific massacres against unarmed civilians, including displaced children, women, and the elderly … is a continuation of the genocide and forced displacement attempts waged against our Palestinian people,” the Islamist group said in a statement.
Palestinian medical sources previously reported at least 52 deaths during the operation, although they added that the number may increase in the coming hours as bodies are rescued from the rubble after the intense Israeli bombing.
In an overnight operation in Rafah, Israeli forces rescued two hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, both kidnapped from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz on Oct. 7. There are still 130 captives being held, and around 30 dead.
“The condition of the two is good and they were taken for medical tests at the Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center,” said a joint statement between the IDF, police and the Shin Bet intelligence unit.
The pair are in a stable condition, according to the hospital.
Israeli Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the operation in the heart of Rafah was carried out with “intense firepower from the air. Fire was opened from nearby buildings. The Air Force struck intensively there,” and that “many terrorists were eliminated tonight in this action.”
Hamas said the attack “is a compounded crime, a deepening of genocide, and an expansion of the massacres committed against our people, given the tragic conditions experienced by this city due to the crowding of approximately 1.4 million citizens in it, and its streets turning into camps for the displaced, living in extremely difficult and harsh conditions due to the lack of the most basic necessities of life.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced over the weekend a plan to expand the military ground offensive in Rafah, where he claims four Hamas battalions remain, although he promised to evacuate civilians first, a difficult thing to do in a devastated enclave with its armed borders.
“The terrorist Netanyahu government and its Nazi army blatantly disregard the decisions of the International Court of Justice issued two weeks ago, which prescribed urgent measures including stopping any steps that could be considered acts of genocide,” said Hamas, which has governed the Strip since 2007.
Hamas added that the United States and President Joe Biden bear full responsibility along with Israel due to “the open support they provide [Netanyahu] with money, weapons, and political cover to continue the war of genocide and massacres.”
The Rafah operation occurred just hours after Biden asked Netanyahu to refrain from launching a military operation in the city without a plan to ensure the safety of civilians.
Hamas also called on the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the United Nations Security Council to take “immediate and serious action to stop the zionist aggression and the ongoing genocide crimes against unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
Rafah, on the Egypt border, had been designated by Israel as the only safe zone in the enclave and to where over 1 million evacuated to from other parts of the territory. EFE