Palestinians brace for Rafah assault; U.N. warns they have ‘no idea where to go’

Hezbollah and Israel trade fire over Lebanese border

Israel and the Hezbollah militatnt group traded fire over Lebanon’s border today.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Telegram that its fighter jets struck a military compound around a-mile-and-a-half north of the border. It added that it had also hit an observation post in the border town of Markaba.

IDF forces also struck a “command center” and a “military site” used by Hezbollah yesterday, the statement said, although it did not specify the location of the attacks.

Separately, Hezbollah said in a Telegram post today that it had attacked a barracks in northern Israel using rocket fire this afternoon.

NBC News could not independently verify either claim.

Death toll in Gaza tops 28,000

The death toll in Gaza since Oct. 7 has risen to 28,064, the enclave’s health ministry said in a Telegram post today. It added that 117 people were killed in the last 24 hours.

More than 67,000 people have also been injured, the post said.

NBC News cannot independently verify the figures and it is thought that more bodies remain unaccounted for under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes on the Strip.

Palestinians mourn after identifying bodies of relatives

SAID KHATIB / AFP – Getty Images
Fatima Shbair / AP

Palestinians mourn at a hospital in Rafah after identifying the bodies of relatives killed by Israeli strikes on southern Israel.

Hezbollah chief receives Iranian foreign minister in Beirut

The Hezbollah militant group hosted diplomatic talks with representatives from Iran’s foreign ministry, Lebanese media reported today, amid heightening tensions with Israel on Lebanon’s southern border.

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah received Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, alongside a delegation from the ministry and Iran’s diplomats in Lebanon, according to Al-Manar TV, a broadcaster owned by Hezbollah.

Iran is a key financial and political backer of Hezbollah, co-ordinating training of the group alongside its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and supplying it with weapons.

Exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah have increased in recent months. Hezbollah has increased the scale of rocket attacks over the border in support of Hamas and in protest of Israel’s full-scale invasion of the Gaza strip.

Overnight strikes in Rafah kill 28 as Israel prepares ground invasion

Three airstrikes on homes in Rafah killed 28 people overnight, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli military to prepare to evacuate civilians from the southern city ahead of a ground invasion.

Each strike killed multiple members of three families, a health official told the Associated Press. A total of 10 children, the youngest of whom was three-months-old, the official said.

More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, many after being uprooted repeatedly by Israeli evacuation orders that now cover two-thirds of Gaza’s territory. U.S. officials have said an invasion of Rafah without a plan for the civilian population would lead to disaster.

Internally displaced people in Gaza have not thus far have not been allowed to return to their homes by Israeli forces, and many do not have homes to return to. It is not clear where they would be able to evacuate to escape increasing attacks on Rafah.

Israel airstrikes hit near Damascus, Syria says

Israeli strikes hit a number of sites in the countryside around the Syrian capital of Damascus, the country’s ministry of defense said in Facebook post today.

Air defenses had only managed to shoot down “some” of the missiles, the post said, adding that the attacks resulted in “material losses.” It did not expand on what those losses were.

The attack was launched from Golan Heights, the statement said. The area on Syria’s eastern border has been occupied by Israel since it captured them in a 1967 war.

The Israel Defense Forces told NBC News that it did not comment on foreign reports.

Gazan health officials sound alarm over attacks on Nasser Hospital

One person had died and a number of others were injured after “intense shooting” inside the Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza, a spokesperson for the enclave’s health ministry said today.

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra said that Israeli forces had fired towards the “gates, buildings and courtyards” of the complex, which is the main hospital in Gaza’s second city of Khan Younis.

“Medical teams cannot move between the buildings of Nasser Medical Complex” he said, adding that hundreds of health personnel and wounded individuals, as well as up to 10,000 internally displaced people were sheltering inside the hospital compound.

The targeting of civilian infrastructure such as hospitals is considered a war crime under international humanitarian law, unless significant measures are taken to protect civilian life. Israel has repeatedly claimed that Hamas militants operate from within and around Gaza’s medical facilities, a claim which Hamas has consistently denied.

Six-year-old Hind Rajab found dead 12 days after desperate call with emergency dispatcher.

TEL AVIV — The search for Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl who was missing in Gaza City for 12 days after she made a desperate plea for first responders to rescue her, has reached a tragic end.  

Both Hind and the two first responders dispatched in a bid to save her have been found dead in Gaza City, the Palestine Red Crescent Society told NBC News today.

The little girl’s body was found “trapped” in the vehicle where she had spoken with an emergency dispatcher for more than three hours as gunfire rang out around her, the PRCS said. First responders Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun were also killed, it added.

Palestinian girl Hind who remains trapped amid desperate efforts to recover her safely in Gaza
“Come take me. Please, will you come?” Hind, 6, had said on an emergency call with a dispatcher at the Palestine Red Crescent Society.via PRCS

Hind was traveling with her aunt, uncle and four cousins when their car came under bombardment.

Her 15-year-old cousin Layan called first responders for help, telling the operator that an Israeli tank appeared to be closing in before a burst of gun fire rang out.

After she screamed the line fell dead.

When the dispatchers called back, Hind had answered, saying Layan had been killed.

“Come take me. Please, will you come?” she begged the dispatcher in the call that was released by the medical service.

PRCS spokesperson Nebal Farsakh confirmed today that Hind was “found dead,” along with the ambulance crew.

The PRCS accused Israeli forces of targeting the ambulance after it arrived at the scene despite prior coordination to allow the crew to reach the area. 

NBC News has approached the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

Before her daughter’s body was found, Hind’s mother, Wissam Hamadah, told NBC News of her desperation to be reunited with her daughter. “We want our daughter, she is innocent. It’s a sin what is happening to her,” she said.

Hamadah said the family had fled fighting in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City. As the family fled, she said she placed Hind in the vehicle with her relatives, hoping she would be safer there.

Palestinians look at destruction after Israeli airstrike on Rafah

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah yesterday. More than 1 million people in Gaza’s southernmost city are bracing for attack after Israel said it launch a ground assault against Hamas fighters hiding there.

Fatima Shbair / AP

Palestinians fear time is running out in ‘last stop’ Rafah 

Palestinians in Rafah, the packed city on Gaza’s southern border, were terrified Friday of an impending Israeli ground assault — which the United States and aid groups have warned risks “disaster.”

More than half of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have sought shelter in Rafah, crowding tents in refugee camps stalked by growing hunger, disease and more recently fear that there will be nowhere to escape if troops enter the city.

Washington said it could not support such an operation without proper planning, world leaders voiced growing alarm, and aid officials warned of a “bloodbath.”

In the face of that pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Friday that civilians would be able to flee before the expected ground assault, which he said was necessary in the campaign against Hamas.

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