70 Palestinians martyred in few hours as terrorist Israel intensifies strikes on Rafah
GAZA, Palestine (AFP) - At least 70 people were martyred in heavy air strikes on densely crowded Rafah in southern Gaza before dawn on Monday, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.
It said at least 28,340 people have been martyred in the besieged territory during the war between Palestinian militants and Israel. The latest toll includes more than 200 fatalities over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, while a total of 67,984 people have been wounded in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7.
AFP journalists and witnesses heard an intense series of strikes and saw smoke billowing above the city, which now hosts more than half of Gaza's total population after they fled bombardment elsewhere on the Strip.
The strikes hit 14 houses and three mosques in different parts of Rafah, according to the Hamas government. The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday that it had "conducted a series of strikes on terror targets in the area of Shaboura in the southern Gaza Strip", adding that the strikes had concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered his army to prepare a ground offensive on Rafah, Gaza's last major population centre that troops have yet to enter after Hamas's October 7 attacks sparked the war.
About 1.4 million Palestinians have crowded into Rafah, with many living in tents while food, water and medicine are becoming increasingly scarce.