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Israeli Strikes On Rafah Kill 13, Mostly Children, As US Advances Aid Package

Palestinian medics carry a child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, to the Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 13 people, including nine children, health officials said Sunday, as the United States was on track to approve billions of dollars of additional military aid to its close ally.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. It has also vowed to expand its ground offensive to the city on the border with Egypt despite international calls for restraint, including from the U.S.

The House of Representatives approved a $26 billion aid package on Saturday that includes around $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

The first strike killed a man, his wife and their 3-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti Hospital, which received the bodies. The woman was pregnant, and the doctors managed to save the baby, the hospital said.

The second strike killed eight children and two women, all from the same family, according to hospital records. An airstrike in Rafah the night before killed nine people, including six children.

Palestinian medics carry a child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, to the Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

The Israel-Hamas war has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction across the territory. Around 80% of the population have fled their homes to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave, which experts say is on the brink of famine.

The conflict, now in its seventh month, has sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the U.S. against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran traded fire directly earlier this month, raising fears of all-out war between the longtime foes.

Tensions have also spiked in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Israeli military said troops “neutralized” two Palestinians who attacked a checkpoint with a knife and a gun near the southern West Bank town of Hebron early Sunday. It was not immediately clear if they were killed. No Israeli forces were wounded.

At least 469 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Most have been killed during Israeli military…

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