*** ----> Fears grow for Palestinians in Rafah as Israel-Hamas war rages on 200th day | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Fears grow for Palestinians in Rafah as Israel-Hamas war rages on 200th day

AFP | Jerusalem     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

The Israel-Hamas war entered its 200th day yesterday as aid groups warned that Israeli plans to invade the southern city of Rafah where most Gazans have taken refuge would create an “apocalyptic situation”.

Fears have been rising that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon follow through on repeated threats to send troops into Rafah, where 1.5 million people have sought shelter, many in makeshift encampments.

“Everybody seems to be on a countdown to war across the largest displacement camp on Earth, which is Rafah,” Norwegian Refugee Council chief Jan Egeland told AFP.

Egeland warned that a ground assault on Rafah would be an “apocalyptic situation” and that humanitarian groups “are completely in the dark on how to mitigate this countdown to a catastrophe”.

Also yesterday, the United Nations rights office said it was “horrified” at reports of mass graves found at the Gaza Strip’s two biggest hospitals after Israeli sieges and raids. Israel has repeatedly targeted Gazan medical facilities during the war, accusing Hamas of using them as command centres and to hold hostages abducted on October 7.

Hamas denies the accusation. Gaza’s Civil Defence agency said nearly 340 bodies were uncovered in the past three days of people killed and buried by Israeli forces at the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis.

Israel’s army responded by saying that claims it had buried Palestinian bodies were “baseless and unfounded”, without directly addressing allegations that Israeli troops were behind the killings.

The army said that “corpses buried by Palestinians” had been examined by Israeli troops searching for hostages and then “returned to their place”. UN rights chief Volker Turk called for an “independent” probe into the deaths at Nasser and Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospitals, noting the “special protection” awarded to medical facilities under international law.

Intense shelling

The Israeli army carried out intense shelling overnight of Gaza City, AFP correspondents and witnesses said, with the military saying it also struck Hamas positions in south Gaza.

Shelling and loud explosions were heard in southwest Gaza and Khan Yunis city, while strikes hit the Bureij and Nuseirat refugee camps in central Gaza. The war began with an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 that resulted in the death of around 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

In retaliation, Israel launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,183 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.