At least 44 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes after Netanyahu said a ground invasion was coming in Rafah.

Rafah, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli airstrikes killed at least 44 Palestinians — including a dozen children — in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday, Israel's prime minister said, asking the army to plan an evacuation. Hundreds of thousands of people ahead of the ground invasion.

Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide details or a timeline, but the announcement caused panic and warnings of diplomats. More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, many following Israeli evacuation orders that now comprise two-thirds. It is not known where they will run next.

Israel says Rafah, which borders Egypt, is the last stronghold of the Hamas militant group after more than four months of fighting in Gaza. October 7 Hamas attack.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shogri warned that Israel's ground attack on Rafah would have “disastrous consequences” and insisted that Israel ultimately aims to expel Palestinians from their land.

Shogri also said that Egypt is acting Shorten the gap A permanent ceasefire between the fighting sides on October 7 in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the release of the remaining hostages. “Negotiations are complicated,” he said.

is increasing Friction Between Netanyahu and the US, its officials said the invasion of Rafah would be carried out without a civilian plan. lead to disaster.

Israel has carried out almost daily airstrikes in Rafah, even after residents were told to flee the ongoing ground war in Khan Yunis to the north in recent weeks.

Between Saturday and Saturday, three airstrikes on homes in the Rafah area killed 28 people, according to health officials and Associated Press journalists. Each strike killed multiple members of three families, including a total of 10 children, the youngest 3 months old.

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Fadel al-Khannam said a strike tore the bodies of his loved ones to pieces. He is survived by his son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.

Rafa's ground invasion is even worse, he said, and the world's peace has helped Israel continue. “Until today, the world has not been fair to us,” he said.

Late Saturday, an Israeli airstrike on a house in Rafah killed at least 11 people, including three children, according to Ahmad al-Sawaf, head of the Rafah municipality. The deceased were taken to Abu Yusuf Al-Najjar Hospital, said an AP journalist there. According to city officials, two constables and three senior civil police officers were killed in two other strikes.

In Khan Yunis, Israeli forces opened fire on the region's largest Nasser Hospital, killing at least two people and wounding five others, the Medecins Sans Frontières charity said.

Israeli tanks reached the hospital gates on Saturday morning, hospital doctor Ahmed Maghrabi said in a Facebook post.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Khitra said hospital staff could not move between buildings due to the heavy fire. He said 300 medical personnel, 450 patients and 10,000 displaced people have taken shelter there.

The Israeli military said troops were not currently operating inside the hospital and called the area around it an “active war zone”.

80% of Gaza's population has been displaced, and the territory is submerged. Humanitarian crisis With food shortages and Medical service.

The Gaza death toll is over 28,000

Gaza's health ministry said on Saturday that the bodies of 117 people killed in Israeli airstrikes in the past 24 hours had been brought to hospitals, raising the total death toll from the attack to 28,064, mostly women and children. The ministry said more than 67,000 people were injured.

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Israel declared war after several thousand Hamas fighters burst across the border into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,300 and taking 250 hostage. Not everyone is still alive.

Israel has blamed Hamas for civilian deaths due to fighting from inside civilian areas, but US officials have called for more surgical strikes. President Joe Biden said this week that Israel's response was “over the top.”

Netanyahu's office says it is impossible to eliminate Hamas while leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.

Egypt warned The entry of Palestinians into Egypt would threaten the four-decade-old peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The mostly closed Rafah border crossing serves as a major entry point for humanitarian aid.

Rafah had a pre-war population of about 280,000, and the United Nations says it is now home to some 1.4 million additional people He ran away fighting to other places.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be “a humanitarian disaster in the making”, adding in X that “people in Gaza cannot disappear into thin air”.

More deaths in northern Gaza

Israel's offensive has caused widespread destruction, particularly in northern Gaza, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Two Palestinian doctors were found dead on Saturday in an ambulance in the Tell al-Hawa area of ​​Gaza City, where they had been missing for 12 days. They rushed to rescue 6-year-old Hind Rajab, who had traveled with his family to obey evacuation orders.

The PRC had earlier released a recording of a call from Hind's relative, who said the car had caught fire and that she and Hind were the only survivors. Brother Mid Cal went in silence.

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The PRC said the rescue operation was coordinated with Israel's military, which had no comment.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Kirsten Kreishaber in Berlin contributed.

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Find out more about AP's coverage https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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