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IDF airstrike in Rafah eliminates 2 senior Hamas commanders, Palestinians claim at least 35 people dead

Israel argues strike was ‘against legitimate targets under international law’

A fire at a tent encampment in Rafah (Photo: Screenshot)

An Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft struck a Hamas compound in Rafah on Sunday evening and eliminated Palestinian terrorist Yassin Rabia, the commander of Hamas’ leadership in Judea and Samaria, as well as Khaled Nagar, a senior official in Hamas’ Judea and Samaria branch. 

According to the IDF, Rabia “managed Hamas' terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria, transferred funds to terror targets and planned Hamas terror attacks throughout Judea and Samaria." In addition, Rabia carried out several terror attacks, including in 2001 and 2002, in which IDF soldiers were killed. 

The IDF stated that Nagar was responsible for shooting attacks and other terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, and handling Hamas funds intended for terrorist activities. Nagar also carried out several terror attacks between 2001-2003 which led to the deaths of Israeli civilians and soldiers. He was responsible for the murder of Shuli Har Melech, the husband of Knesset Member Limor Son Har Melech, of the Jewish Power party.

The strike was carried out based on intelligence from the IDF and Shin Bet, out in the area of Tell as-Sultan, in northwest Rafah.

In a statement released following the airstrike, the IDF acknowledged reports of civilian casualties and said it would investigate the incident while stating the strike was “legitimate.” 

“The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas' use of the area,” the statement said. “The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review.” 

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claimed that 35 people were killed and dozens injured in the strike, reporting that most of the casualties were women and children. 

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported the strikes took place in “displaced persons’ tents near the United Nations headquarters northwest of Rafah,” which had been designated as a safe zone by Israel. 

An Israeli news site reported the fire in the tents was due to the presence of long-range missiles hidden inside the displaced persons camp that were ignited in a secondary explosion from the airstrike. The claim has not yet been substantiated by Israel Defense Forces.

The IDF said it targeted a home in Tell as-Sultan, in "Area 2372," outside of the designated “humanitarian zone” where Israel has instructed civilians to evacuate.

Area of airstrike in Rafah.

Hamas later issued a call to Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank, to “rise up and march” in response to the killings. 

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council told The Times of Israel: “We’re aware of the reports about the incident in Rafah and are gathering more information.” 

Hamas’ Judea and Samaria wing is responsible for the planning, funding, and carrying out of terror attacks throughout these territories and within Israel proper. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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