Palestinians in Rafah described a night of fear as Israeli strikes pummeled the area early Monday, killing and wounding dozens, according to the Gazan health ministry, and highlighting the cost of Israel’s military operation to free its hostages.
“I swear to God it was an indescribable night,” said Ghada al-Kurd, 37, who is among more than a million people sheltering in the southern Gaza city. “The bombing was everywhere — we were convinced that the Israeli army was invading Rafah.”
Israel’s military said early Monday that it had conducted a “wave of attacks” on Rafah to provide cover for soldiers who freed two hostages held by Hamas. The health ministry in Gaza said that at least 67 people had been killed in the strikes, and that the toll was likely to rise. The ministry’s figures do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.
Dr. Marwan al-Hamase, the director of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, said that the hospital had received 100 injured people overnight, along with the bodies of 52 who were killed.
Maher Abu Arar, a spokesman for the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, said the hospital had taken in at least 15 bodies and 50 wounded people. “There were a lot of body parts,” said Mr. Abu Arar, following “successive and sudden” Israeli strikes.
Ms. al-Kurd said that people in Rafah were panicking and considered evacuating during the night, but “no one knew where to even go.” She added in a voice message that her young nieces “were crying and I was trying to calm them down,” even though she was also “very scared.”