Israeli military say they killed 500 Hamas militants during Rafah operation

Israeli Military Say They Killed 500 Hamas Militants During Rafah Operation
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, © Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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By Associated Press Reporters

Israel’s military said they have killed more than 500 Hamas militants during the monthlong operation in Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip.

The military said they had identified 20 smuggling tunnels which totalled more than 20km (12.5 miles) and more than 230 tunnel shafts.


The army said 100 of the tunnel shafts were in the Philadelphi corridor, a thin, demilitarised buffer zone along Gaza’s border with Egypt.

Israel has long maintained that Hamas has significant tunnels in the Philadelphi corridor to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza, a claim that Egypt denies. Future control over the Philadelphi corridor will be a major aspect of any ceasefire negotiations.

Hundreds of Palestinians have died during Israel’s operation in Rafah, including at least 45 people who died when a tent encampment located next to what Israel said was a Hamas military building caught fire in May.

Israel acknowledged that deaths were a “tragic mishap” but even its closest allies have expressed outrage at the high toll of civilian deaths in Rafah and across Gaza.


A demonstrator sits on the street in Jerusalem during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government
A demonstrator sits on the street in Jerusalem during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Monday (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

Israel insists it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world’s top courts, one of which last month demanded that it halt the offensive in Rafah.

US President Joe Biden had issued his strongest warning to Israel over the operation in Rafah, threatening that the US could cut its supply of offensive weapons if Israel carried out a wide-ranging operation.


Thus far, the Biden administration has said that Israel’s military manoeuvres in Rafah do not yet cross their red line.

The military’s figures came as tens of thousands of people who say they have lost faith in Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protested in Jerusalem on Monday, calling for immediate elections and an end to the war in Gaza.

Many Israelis, anguished over the hostages still held in Gaza and the ongoing war, accuse Mr Netanyahu of putting political interests ahead of all else. They accuse the government of having lost control of the eight-month-old war and demand a deal to stop the fighting and return the hostages.

Mr Netanyahu denies the accusations and says he has the country’s best interests in mind.


Later on Monday, Palestinian health officials said nine people had been killed in an Israeli strike in eastern Rafah, a day after the Israeli military pledged new steps to increase the flow of humanitarian aid through the area.

Mohammed Daloul, who said he lost three relatives in Monday’s strike, said some of the people killed were merchants who were waiting to pick up deliveries near the Israeli border.

The European Hospital in the nearby city of Khan Younis confirmed the nine deaths.

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