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Israeli attacks on Rafah in Gaza kill thirteen people, mostly children, while the US advances an aid package

Supporters of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami take part in a demonstration against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Supporters of the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami take part in a demonstration against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and show solidarity with the Palestinians. Associated press

RAFAH: Israeli attacks on the southern Gaza town of Rafah killed 13 people overnight, including nine children, health officials said on Sunday, as the United States moved to deploy billions of dollars in additional military to approve aid to their closest ally.

Israel has carried out almost daily airstrikes on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere.

It has also pledged to expand its ground offensive into the city on the border with Egypt, despite international calls for restraint, including from the US.

The House of Representatives on Saturday approved a $26 billion aid package that includes about $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The first attack killed a man, his wife and their three-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti hospital, which received the bodies.

The woman was pregnant and doctors managed to save the baby, the hospital said.

The second attack killed eight children and two women, all from the same family, according to hospital records.

An airstrike in Rafah the night before killed nine people, including six children.

The war between Israel and Hamas has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction across the territory, according to local health officials.

About 80 percent of the population has fled their homes to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave, which experts say is on the brink of famine.

The conflict, now in its seventh month, has sparked regional unrest, pitting Israel and the US against Iran and allied militant groups in the Middle East.

Israel and Iran exchanged direct fire earlier this month, raising fears of an all-out war between the longtime enemies.

Tensions have also increased in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Israeli army said troops early Sunday “neutralized” two Palestinians who attacked a checkpoint with a knife and a gun near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

It was not immediately clear whether they died. No Israeli troops were injured.

At least 469 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Most were killed during Israeli military arrests, which often lead to gun battles, or during violent protests.

The war in Gaza was sparked by an unprecedented attack on October 7 in southern Israel, in which Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250 hostages.

Israel says militants are still holding about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to call for new elections to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an agreement with Hamas to release the hostages.

Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are returned.

At least 34,049 Palestinians have been killed and another 76,901 injured in the war, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in the count, but says at least two-thirds are children and women.

It also said the actual toll is likely to be higher because many bodies are trapped under rubble left by airstrikes or in areas inaccessible to medics.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the militants fight in densely populated residential areas, but the military rarely comments on individual attacks, which often kill women and children.

The military says it has killed more than 13,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence.