UN: More than a million people have fled Rafah since May 6

3 soldiers killed in blast in booby-trapped building in Gaza’s Rafah

IDF strikes RPG-bearing operative in Jabaliya, finds weapons cache near mosque; Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies calls for unimpeded access to Strip

Soldiers killed in southern Gaza on May 28, 2024. Left to right: Staff Sgt. Uri Bar Or, Staff Sgt. Ido Appel, Staff Sgt. Amir Galilove. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers killed in southern Gaza on May 28, 2024. Left to right: Staff Sgt. Uri Bar Or, Staff Sgt. Ido Appel, Staff Sgt. Amir Galilove. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday announced the deaths of three soldiers during fighting in Gaza a day earlier, as it continued major military operations in Rafah in the southern Strip and Jabaliya in the north.

The slain troops were named as Staff Sgt. Amir Galilove, 20, from Shimshit, Staff Sgt. Uri Bar Or, 21, from Midreshet Ben-Gurion and Staff Sgt. Ido Appel, 21, from Tzofar.

According to an initial IDF probe, the three were killed by a blast in a booby-trapped building in Rafah. All three served in the Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion.

Their deaths brought the toll of slain troops in the IDF’s ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza and amid operations along the border to 291.

An officer and two soldiers of the 50th Battalion were seriously wounded and another officer was moderately hurt in the same incident, the military said.

In another incident on Tuesday, an officer and a soldier of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 614th Battalion were seriously wounded while fighting terror operatives in northern Gaza.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image cleared for publication on May 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Separately, a soldier of the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit was seriously wounded and three other soldiers were lightly and moderately hurt as a result of a blast in a booby-trapped tunnel shaft in southern Gaza.

Earlier Wednesday, a soldier of the Multidomain Unit, also known as the Ghost Unit, was seriously injured in northern Gaza, the IDF said.

The military released footage showing an airstrike against an operative with an RPG in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya.

The IDF said the operative was spotted by troops of the 636th Combat Intelligence Collection Unit before a strike was carried out.

A second airstrike was carried out a short while later after a second operative was identified in the area, the military added.

Troops in Jabaliya have come under massive RPG fire amid the latest operation there in recent weeks.

The military additionally said troops located and demolished several tunnel shafts and dozens of rocket launchers, and also located a weapons cache adjacent to a mosque.

A weapons cache found by IDF troops adjacent to a mosque in Gaza’s Jabaliya, May 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The military’s announcements came as the IDF pressed its incursion into Rafah despite mounting international opposition to the operation in Gaza’s southernmost city.

Israeli tanks reached the center of Rafah for the first time on Tuesday, witnesses said.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Wednesday that more than a million people have fled Rafah since Israel began pushing into the city on May 6.

Juliette Touma, spokesperson for UNRWA, told a UN press conference that the agency’s teams on the ground said that there was heavy shelling in the city overnight, in the area north of Rafah home to the UN main offices as well as UNRWA’s offices.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called on Wednesday for a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

“We desperately need a political solution that will allow us to have a ceasefire to get aid in,” IFRC president Kate Forbes told Reuters in an interview in the Philippine capital Manila.

“We’re ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access there has to [be] a ceasefire,” said Forbes, the head of the world’s largest humanitarian network.

Amid mounting international pressure, Israel insists that the military operation in Rafah is crucial to its goal of eliminating Hamas and freeing the hostages seized during the terror group’s October 7 massacre.

Palestinians fleeing from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

International criticism escalated after Israeli airstrikes near Rafah on Sunday night, with Hamas health authorities reporting that 45 people were killed and dozens injured in the strikes and in an ensuing blaze in a camp housing displaced civilians.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had targeted a Hamas compound and eliminated two commanders in the terror group’s ranks, and that a hidden store of Hamas weapons may have been the actual cause of the deadly blaze. The military said that the airstrike that targeted an adjacent area had used small munitions that would not ignite such a fire on their own.

War broke out on October 7 when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israeli communities and army positions, killing around 1,200 people, taking 252 hostages, and committing other atrocities.

Israel’s government has vowed to destroy the group to keep it from being able to launch such an assault ever again and to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The toll, which cannot be verified, includes some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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