GAZA: A Palestinian youth cries over the body of his mother killed in Zionist bombardment at the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb 12, 2024. - AFP
GAZA: A Palestinian youth cries over the body of his mother killed in Zionist bombardment at the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb 12, 2024. - AFP

GAZA: Fears of a looming ground incursion grew Monday among more than a million Palestinians trapped in war-ravaged Gaza’s crowded far south. With a dramatic overnight raid in Rafah city, Zionist special forces claimed to have freed two captives in a rare rescue mission. Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Luis Har, 70, were allegedly freed amid an intense firefight and heavy airstrikes, then airlifted to a hospital where they were declared in good health.

The overnight bombing in Rafah killed around 100 people including children, said the health ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned what it called a “massacre” and accused Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “a mentality of revenge”.

The Zionist entity has carried out a relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 28,340 people, mostly women and children. In Rafah, local Palestinian residents surveyed the large bomb craters and rubble left after the intense battle. One man walked with a pile of salvaged religious books from a bomb-damaged mosque. Another, 28-year-old Abu Suhhaib, said the fighting had made him feel “as if hell had opened”. Weeks of talks towards a new ceasefire and hostage release deal have brought no results yet, and Netanyahu has vowed to send ground troops into Rafah where about 1.4 million displaced Palestinians are living in shelters and tent camps. They are hemmed into an area near the Egyptian border as the battlefront moves ever closer from the north.

Aid groups and foreign governments — including the Zionist entity’s key ally the United States — have voiced deep concern over the potentially disastrous consequences of expanding operations in Rafah. Dozens of captives were freed by Hamas during a one-week truce in November that also saw the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Zionist jails. Hamas’ military wing said Sunday that two captives had been killed and eight wounded in recent Zionist bombardment.

United States President Joe Biden last week called the Zionist entity’s military response in Gaza “over the top”, which on Monday prompted European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to say: “Maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people” being killed. Washington provides the Zionist entity with billions of dollars in military aid.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged the Zionist entity to “stop and think seriously before it takes any further action” in Gaza. Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, warned that “an extremely high number of civilians” would likely be killed or injured in a full Zionist incursion into Rafah.

Netanyahu has said the Zionist entity would provide “safe passage” to civilians trying to leave Rafah. The EU’s Borrell, like Gazans themselves, wondered where they can go. “They are going to evacuate — where? To the moon?” Borrell said. Iman Dergham, displaced from Khan Yunis city to Rafah, said that “wherever we go there’s bombing. Martyrs and wounded are everywhere.”

Another resident, Ibrahim Abu Jaber, survived the bombing on Monday but asked: “What if the actual invasion took place?” He fears “the martyrs will be in the thousands.”

Renewed talks for a pause in the fighting have been held in Cairo, with Hamas open to a fresh ceasefire including more prisoner-hostage exchanges, but Netanyahu has dismissed some of the group’s demands as “bizarre”. A Hamas leader told AFP on condition of anonymity that a Zionist push into Rafah “would torpedo the exchange negotiations”.

The Zionist army said Monday that two more soldiers had been killed inside Gaza, bringing the military death toll to 229 since ground operations began in late October. Hamas’ armed wing said it had “finished off” 10 soldiers in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza city several kilometers from Rafah, where heavy fighting has occurred. – AFP

By Nermin Al-Houti The third forum on Just Peace was inaugurated earlier in Egypt, organized by the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Establishment in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, under the patronage of Egyptian President Abde...
By Nermin Al-Houti The third Forum on Just Peace was inaugurated earlier in Egypt, and it is organized by Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Establishment in corporation with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture under the patronage of H.E Egyptian Presi...