Overnight airstrikes launched by Israel targeted areas in the central Gaza Strip and the southern city of Rafah, resulting in the deaths of nearly two dozen people, including women and children, according to witnesses and hospital officials. The strikes mark a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he has instructed the military to prepare plans for the evacuation of Rafah's population ahead of an anticipated Israeli invasion of the city. This announcement comes amid heightened tensions and mounting casualties in Gaza.
The relentless Israeli offensive has forced more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million inhabitants to flee towards the border with Egypt, where many find themselves trapped in makeshift tent camps or overcrowded U.N.-managed shelters. The dire humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to worsen as the conflict rages on.
The latest developments come on the heels of remarks made by U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday, where he criticized Israel's actions in the war as "over the top." Biden's comments reflect growing international concern over the high civilian death toll and widespread suffering inflicted by the conflict.
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, the Palestinian death toll from the war has now surpassed 27,840, with a quarter of Gaza's population facing starvation. The conflict erupted on October 7 when Hamas launched a deadly assault into Israel, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the abduction of around 250 individuals.