Rafah, Feb 13 (AP) Bodies of 133 people killed in Israeli strikes have been brought to hospitals in the Gaza Strip over the past day, health officials there said as the Palestinian death toll from an Israeli hostage rescue operation in Rafah rose to 74 on Tuesday.

The raid took place early Monday in Rafah, a city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war. Women and children were among those killed in the airstrikes, Palestinian officials said.

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The overall Palestinian death toll from the war in Gaza has surpassed 28,000 people, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A quarter of Gaza's residents are starving.

The war began with Hamas' assault into Israel on October 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, while Hamas is holding the remains of roughly 30 others who were either killed on October 7 or died in captivity.

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Three hostages were mistakenly killed by the army after escaping their captors in December.


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Tel Aviv: A relative of one of the hostages Israel rescued in a daring mission this week in the Gaza Strip says he never received medicines that were part of a Qatar- and French-mediated deal meant to deliver treatment to sick captives held by Hamas in exchange for more aid for Palestinians.

Maayan Sigal-Koren told Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday that Louis Har, her mother's partner who was freed, was sent a hearing aid, glasses and medication which he said he never received.

Har, 70, has diabetes and hypertension for which he needs medication, among other conditions, according to the Hostage and Missing – Families Forum, an advocacy group supporting the families of the hostages.

Sigal-Koren said the fact that Har didn't have the meds compounded the challenges of being held captive.

“It added to other difficulties there, the psychological difficulties, the difficulty that his freedom was taken away,” she said.

Israeli hospital officials said Har and fellow freed captive Fernando Marman were in good physical shape upon their release.

The Qatar- and France-mediated deal was meant to provide a three-months' supply of medications for 45 of the hostages. Qatar announced nearly a month ago that the medications had arrived in Gaza but there was never any confirmation that they had reached the hostages.


Dubai: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered blistering criticism of Israel, demanding it immediately recognise an independent Palestinian state and halt its war in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.

“Before the region is exposed to harsher threats, we need to stop the massacre in Gaza now,” Erdogan said before the World Governments Summit in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

He criticised Israeli settlers taking land in the West Bank as some in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line government called for settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan said setting aside Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel that killed some 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage, “the source of the crisis today is the sustaining of the settlements on the Palestinian lands.”

“If Israel wants a permanent peace in the region, the proliferation-related vision should be stopped once and for all,” Erdogan said. “A free and independent Palestinian state should be recognized within the 1967 borders.”

He described Turkey as “living in a circle of fire” in the region. He also called on funding to immediately resume for the United Nations' agency for Palestinians, known as UNRWA. Some nations have cut funding to the agency over Israeli accusations that some of its employees took part in the October 7 attack.


Beijing: China has called on Israel to halt military operations in Gaza as soon as possible following a raid that rescued two hostages and killed at least 74 Palestinians.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing added in a brief statement on Tuesday that Israel should “do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah.”

Israel has signalled its ground offensive may soon target Rafah, the town in the Gaza Strip where the hostages were freed by the raid.

China has consistently opposed the Israeli offensive, calling from the start for a cease-fire and talks to find a permanent solution to the crisis.


Cairo: The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says the bodies of 133 people killed in Israeli strikes have been brought to hospitals in the war-wrecked territory over the past day.

Hospitals also received 162 wounded patients, the ministry said.

Also Tuesday, the death toll from an Israeli hostage rescue operation in the town of Rafah rose to 74, according to Dr. Marawan al-Hams, director of the local Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital. Israeli forces conducting the operation, which freed two hostages, were backed by heavy airstrikes on the town, to where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have fled.

The fresh fatalities brought the death toll in Gaza to 28,473 since the war began on October 7, according to the ministry.

The ministry doesn't differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says more than 70 per cent of the dead are women and minors. Israel says its forces have killed 10,000 Hamas fighters without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the death toll, saying it embeds in civilians areas, putting noncombatants at risk.

More than 68,000 people have been wounded in the war, of them 11,000 who need urgent evacuation for treatment out of Gaza, the ministry said.

The ministry said many of the dead remain under the rubble of destroyed buildings and on roadsides with first responders unable to reach many areas and collect the bodies.


Cairo: Palestinian health officials say Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man as 20-year-old Mohammed Sherif Hassan Selmi and said he was shot in his chest, shoulders and head.

The Israeli military said Tuesday that forces were operating in the West Bank city of Qalqilya when the man allegedly attempted to run over soldiers, who opened fired and killed the man. The military said it was not aware of whether any soldiers were wounded.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of the secular Fatah party, said its fighters clashed with the Israeli forces but did not claim Selmi as a member.

The West Bank has seen a surge of violence since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out in October. The Health Ministry says more than 380 Palestinians have been killed during that time. The Israeli military says it has arrested more than 3,000 Palestinians in the West Bank since the war began.


Dubai: The secretary-general of the Arab League has warned Israel against policies he described as forcefully displacing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit decried what he called an “Israeli mentality” to try and seize land the Palestinians want for their future state. He warned any seizure of the Gaza Strip or the West Bank by Israel would mean “a confrontation for the next thousand years.”

“The United States must order Israel to stop these policies or otherwise the Middle East will explode in an unprecedented way,” he said.

He also called on Israel to “empty the settlements” in Palestinian land as well.

Aboul Gheit, a former ambassador to the United Nations and Egypt's last foreign minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, spoke at the World Government Summit in Dubai.


United Nations: The UN Security Council held an emergency closed meeting on the escalating civilian death toll in Gaza and Israel's plans to move its offensive to Rafah where some 1.5 million Palestinians have fled hoping to find safety.

China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun told The Associated Press after Monday's late meeting that there was “a loud cry” among council members about the need for urgent action -- to deal with the “unfolding humanitarian catastrophe,” Israel's announced intentions in Gaza, and further spillover of the war.

Algeria, the Arab representative on the 15-member Security Council who called the meeting, has circulated a draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war that began after Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage.

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel's offensive, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Zhang said the “very strong and overwhelming position of council members” is for the Security Council to act but one member – a clear reference to Israel's closest ally the United States – “worries about the complication of Security Council action with the bilateral efforts” it is undertaking.

The Chinese envoy said discussions on the Algerian draft resolution are still taking place, and he expressed hope “that eventually the council will be demonstrating our united position.”(AP)

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