Hamas kills 15 invading Israeli soldiers in Rafah


Hamas fighters killed 15 Israeli soldiers in Rafah on 18 May, as Palestinian civilians continue to face the threat of displacement and starvation amid Israel’s ongoing attack on the southern Gaza border city.

The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement, announced that “its forces were able to finish off 15 Zionist soldiers east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.”

Qassam said in a statement that this came “after a Qassam group stormed a house in which a large number of soldiers were barricaded and clashed with them from a distance of zero, after which our mujahideen detonated an anti-personnel device in the Al-Tanour neighborhood, east of the Palestinian city.”

An Israeli air strike on a house in Rafah killed two civilians on Friday night, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Israeli artillery also struck the east and center of Rafah, Wafa added. 

The Israeli army began its Rafah offensive on 6 May, months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to assault the city, where he claimed Qassam has four remaining battalions.

Earlier this week, Israel began a massive operation in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, which has also been met by stiff resistance, months after the army claimed to have defeated Hamas there. Israeli air strikes hit targets in Jabaliya overnight on Friday after Israeli tanks and ground troops fought battles with Qassam fighters who were using anti-tank missiles and mortars in the narrow alleyways of Gaza’s largest refugee camp.

Palestinian civilians continue to face displacement and death as a result of the Israeli invasions of both Jabaliya and Rafah.

Hanna al-Habash, 22, told The National she had already been displaced several times before reaching Rafah.

“I didn’t want to leave for the south, but when the Israeli army called us, we couldn’t stay in Gaza. They know how to affect you and make you afraid,” she said.

Habash was forced to move twice within Gaza City, then to Khan Younis, and finally to Rafah City, where some 1.3 million Palestinians were sheltering before the start of Israel’s current offensive.

“We are not only facing difficulties in finding a safe place but also in living life,” she said.

“The prices are so high, water is not available all the time, and using the bathroom requires planning. This is not a life.”

“The Israeli army could reach us anytime without giving any statement about their intentions.”

“If we have to leave, we need to buy a tent, and it’s too expensive. We can’t afford it. I hope the war ends soon, and we can go back to Gaza,” she explained.

Malnutrition in Gaza is widespread, with international aid efforts blocked by what Reuters described as “Israel’s de-facto shutdowns of its Kerem Shalom crossing and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.”

The first aid deliveries from Cyprus via the US-built port off the Gaza coast began on Thursday. However, Reuters adds it is “still unclear how it would be distributed given the challenges that have beset the United Nations and relief groups for months.”

The UN stressed that delivering aid by land was the “most viable, effective and efficient” method.

“To stave off the horrors of famine, we must use the fastest and most obvious route to reach the people of Gaza – and for that, we need access by land now,” deputy UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

“We don’t want ships… we want safety,” said displaced Gazan Hassan Abu al-Kass, speaking to Reuters in the central Gaza Strip.

US President Joe Biden claims he is concerned about the threat of starvation in Gaza and the pier is meant to ease the humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s blockade and killing of aid workers.

However, the Gaza government media office stated, “The American administration is trying, through this water pier, to show a civilized face and beautify its ugly face, which is fully engaged in the war of extermination, which the occupation army has been waging against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip for more than 224 days,” warning that “the pier gives Israel an opportunity to extend the war on the Gaza Strip.”

The statement questioned “the intentions of the American administration, which works to manage and continue the genocidal war, forms a wall of protection and support for the Israeli occupation, and continues to support it absolutely in order to continue its war against civilians.”