Israel eliminates two Hamas commanders in the West Bank

Both leaders were neutralised during an Israeli strike in Rafah after Hamas fired several rockets at Tel Aviv. The operation has killed more than 50 people, according to Gaza's health authorities 
Esta fotografía publicada por el ejército israelí el 27 de marzo de 2024 muestra tropas sobre el terreno en la Franja de Gaza, en medio de batallas entre Israel y Hamás - Ejército israelí/AFP
Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip amid battles between Israel and Hamas - Israeli army/AFP
  1. Hamas calls on Palestinians to "rise up" against Israel 
  2. Despite international pressure, Israel maintains operation in Rafah 
  3. Egypt agrees to send humanitarian aid to Gaza via Kerem Shalom   

The Israeli air force has shot down Yassin Rabia and Khaled Najjar, two Hamas commanders, during an attack on an area in Rafah from where the terrorist group had launched several rockets at Tel Aviv hours earlier, setting off anti-aircraft alarms in central Israel for the first time in months.  

In addition to Rabia and Nagar, more than 50 Gazans were killed in the attack, according to Hamas-controlled health authorities in Gaza. The Palestinian enclave's health ministry said most of the victims were women and children, while the Palestinian Red Crescent Society confirmed that the attack hit "tents of displaced people near the UN headquarters in northwest Rafah".  

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the attack took place in an area where senior Hamas officials were meeting in Tal as Sultan, northwest of Rafah. "The attack was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using accurate munitions and on the basis of accurate intelligence indicating Hamas use of the area," a statement said.   

Israeli military authorities have also announced that they are aware of "reports indicating that as a result of the attack and the fire that was ignited, a number of civilians in the area were affected" and that "the incident is being examined".  

The Israeli army has also provided information on the two eliminated Hamas leaders accused of terrorist activities in the West Bank. On the one hand, Yassin Rabia, Hamas chief of staff in the area, managed all of the Islamist group's activity in the West Bank

He "transferred funds to terrorist targets and planned Hamas attacks throughout Judea and Samaria. He also carried out numerous attacks in which IDF soldiers were killed," the statement said.  

Khaled Najjar, meanwhile, was a senior member of Hamas' West Bank headquarters who planned shootings and other terrorist activities. "He transferred funds for Hamas terrorist activities in Gaza. He also carried out several deadly terrorist attacks in which IDF soldiers were killed," the Israeli army adds.  

Hamas calls on Palestinians to "rise up" against Israel 

Palestinian authorities in both Gaza and the West Bank have condemned the attack as a "massacre".   

"Due to the horrible Zionist massacre committed this afternoon by the criminal occupation army against the tents of displaced people we call on the masses of our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the occupied territories and abroad to rise up and march against the ongoing Zionist massacre against our people," Hamas said in a statement. 

The terrorist group has been accused on numerous occasions of using Gazan civilians themselves as human shields, placing weapons in heavily populated areas or launching attacks on Israeli territory from public places. Indeed, the recent attack on central Israel was launched from near two mosques, according to the IDF.  

Meanwhile, the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israeli forces of "deliberately targeting" the tents of displaced persons.  

Despite international pressure, Israel maintains operation in Rafah 

The attack comes amid strong international pressure on Israel to cease its offensive on Rafah, considered the last bastion of Hamas. Many of the hostages - both dead and alive - are also believed to be in the area. Israeli troops recently found the bodies of Shani Louk, 22, Amit Bouskila, 28, and Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, south of the Gaza city.   

Despite evidence of Israeli hostages in the area, the International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to "immediately" halt its military activities in Rafah. The president of the ICJ, Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, has stressed that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is "disastrous", and that the measures taken by Israel in Rafah such as the evacuation of civilians are not sufficient to "reduce the risk to which the Palestinian population is exposed because of the offensive". 

Members of Israel's War Cabinet have rejected the ICJ ruling, insisting that they will continue to fight "to free the hostages and ensure the safety of citizens, anytime, anywhere, including in Rafah"

"The State of Israel embarked on a just and necessary campaign after a brutal terrorist organisation massacred our citizens, raped our women, kidnapped our children and fired missiles into the centre of our cities," Benny Gantz said.  

Egypt agrees to send humanitarian aid to Gaza via Kerem Shalom   

In addition to the orders on Israel's military operation in Rafah, the international court also ordered Israel to "keep open" the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow the "unimpeded delivery" of humanitarian aid to the enclave.   

The Rafah crossing was closed after the IDF launched an operation earlier this month to take control of the Gaza side of the crossing. Israel subsequently blamed Egypt for refusing to reopen the crossing, as Cairo does not want to open it as long as the IDF manages the other side.  

Despite the dispute, humanitarian aid began entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday, days after Washington and Cairo agreed to reactivate supplies from Egypt.  

Some 200 truckloads of humanitarian aid, including four fuel trucks, are expected to arrive in Gaza, Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in northern Sinai, told Reuters. These convoys will arrive through the Kerem Shalom crossing after being diverted from the Rafah crossing.

Kerem Shalom, despite being a key entry point for humanitarian aid into Gaza, has been the target of recurrent attacks by Hamas, leading the Israeli authorities to close it at times.  

On the other hand, northern Gaza receives aid through two land routes that Israel reopened during the war. More than 2,000 truckloads of aid entered Gaza through Israel last week, according to the Israel Defence Forces. This aid is sent after arriving at Israeli ports or being trucked through Israel from Jordan, The Times of Israel reports.