A series of Israeli strikes have hit Rafah, the last remaining refuge for Gaza’s civilian population and one of the only areas yet to be the target of a ground offensive.
The border town is normally home to around 280,000 people, but currently houses over half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million.
Most are crammed into tents, makeshift shelters, schools or hospital grounds, having been uprooted multiple times by repeated Israeli evacuation orders as Israel’s military campaign has progressed across the strip over the past 4 months of war.
On Monday morning, despite warnings from US President Joe Biden not to conduct a military operation in the Gaza border town without a plan to protect civilians, the Israeli military said it struck “terror targets in the area of Shaboura”, a district in Rafah.
Officials in the southern Gaza town say at least 67 people have been killed, including by strikes that hit around Kuwait Hospital, where some of the wounded had been brought.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 12,300 Palestinian minors – children and young teens – have now been killed in Israel’s war against Hamas.
About 8,400 women were also among those killed.
The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians and provided the breakdown of minors and women at the request of The Associated Press.
Israel claims to have killed 10,000 Hamas fighters.
The White House said Mr Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday there should be no military operation in the densely populated Gaza border town without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.
Around 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the four-month Israel-Hamas war.
Mr Biden’s remarks were his most forceful language yet on the possible operation. Last week he called Israel’s military response in Gaza “over the top” and sought “urgent and specific” steps to strengthen humanitarian aid.
Discussion of the potential for a ceasefire agreement took up much of the call, a senior US administration official said, and after weeks of diplomacy, a “framework” is now “pretty much” in place for a deal that could see the release of remaining hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a halt to fighting.
Mr Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the call.