Israeli strikes on Gaza kill dozens as Hamas says ceasefire talks back to square one

Strikes reported in various sectors of the coastal territory, including Rafah

Internally displaced Palestinians leave with their belongings following an evacuation order issued by the Israeli army, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Saturday, May 11. EPA
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Dozens of Palestinians were killed across Gaza as Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked overnight, with Hamas saying Israel's rejection of a ceasefire proposal has taken talks back to where they started.

At least 24 bodies have arrived at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Saturday.

The assault was heaviest in the central and eastern areas of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with air strikes against the Al Salam neighbourhood in the southern city and the vicinity of the Rafah crossing, Wafa reported.

Israel said it would proceed with an assault on Rafah, where it believes Hamas fighters are dug in.

On Saturday, the Israeli army instructed residents in the northern cities of the Gaza Strip to relocate to the western part of Gaza city.

Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets in the northern Gaza Strip showing a new map where residents of Jabalya camp, Al Salam, Tal Al Zattar, Al Noor, Beit Lahya and other areas in the north should move to for safety - in the west of Gaza city.

It also urged the residents living in cities in the east and centre of Rafah city to relocate to Khan Yunis and Al Mawasi.

Most of Rafah's residents have left the city and moved to Deir Al Balah, in the central Gaza Strip or to Al Mawasi areas west of Rafah and Khan Yunis.

The Israeli army said about 300,000 people have this week left eastern Rafah for a humanitarian area since it ordered people to move.

"So far, approximately 300,000 Gazans have moved towards the humanitarian area in Al Mawasi" since the order was issued on Monday, the military said in a statement.

Tanks have sealed off eastern Rafah from the south this week, capturing and shutting the only Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, a vital route for supplies to the Palestinian enclave.

An advance on Friday to the Salahuddin road that bisects the Gaza Strip completed the encirclement of the “red zone”, where Israel has ordered residents out.

The Israeli military claimed its forces in eastern Rafah had located several tunnel shafts, and troops backed by an air strike fought at close quarters with groups of Hamas fighters, killing several.

Israel's plan for an all-out assault on Rafah has ignited one of the biggest rifts with its main ally, the US. Washington held up a weapons shipment over fears of the extent of civilian casualties.

The White House said it was closely watching the Israeli operations “with concern,” but they appeared to be localised around the Rafah crossing and did not indicate a large-scale invasion.

Medical sources have said that at least eight people were killed in the ongoing shelling in the Al Zaytoun neighborhood south of Gaza city.

At least seven people were killed in Israeli air strikes on dozens of houses in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, Wafa said.

Israel also bombed the north of the Nuseirat camp and the town of Al Zawaida in the central Gaza Strip.

Israel's military offensive in Gaza has killed close to 35,000 Palestinians and injured 78,641, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The bombardment has laid to waste the coastal enclave and caused a deep humanitarian crisis.

Israeli forces take control of Gaza side of Rafah crossing

Israeli forces take control of Gaza side of Rafah crossing

Rafah assault

The UN has warned that aid for Gaza could grind to a halt within days after Israel seized control of the Rafah border crossing.

South Africa on Friday sought new emergency measures by the International Court of Justice against Israel over its latest offensive against Rafah, the court said in a statement.

It is the third time since its first application in December that South Africa has requested extra action against Israel over the Gaza war.

Israel has condemned South Africa's allegations that it has launched a “genocide” against the Palestinian territory.

South Africa's application said Israel's operation against Rafah poses an “extreme risk” to “humanitarian supplies and basic services into Gaza, to the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and to the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group,” the UN court said in a statement.

The application accused Israel of “continuing violations of the Genocide Convention”.

South Africa said Israel has been “contemptuous” of international law and called on the court to order Israel to “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive” in Rafah.

Benjamin Netanyahu praises 'very important step' after seizing Rafah border crossing in Gaza

Benjamin Netanyahu praises 'very important step' after seizing Rafah border crossing in Gaza

Ceasefire talks

Talks on a ceasefire and a release of hostages held by Hamas ended in Cairo on Thursday without agreement after Israel said a proposal by Qatari and Egyptian mediators included unacceptable elements.

Hamas said on Friday that efforts to find a Gaza Strip truce deal were back at square one after Israel rejected a plan from international mediators, and the White House said it was trying to keep the sides engaged “if only virtually”.

Hamas said in a statement that it would consult with other Palestinian factions on its strategy for talks to halt seven months of war triggered by its deadly October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

Hamas had said it agreed at the start of the week to a proposal by Qatari and Egyptian mediators that had previously been accepted by Israel.

Israel said the Hamas proposal contained elements it cannot accept.

“In the light of (Israel Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s behaviour and rejection of the mediators’ document and the attack on Rafah and the occupation of the crossing, the leadership of the movement will hold consultations with the brotherly leaders of the Palestinian factions to review our negotiation strategy.”

Updated: May 12, 2024, 4:58 AM