Israel has carried out air strikes in southern Gaza’s Rafah, killing dozens, according to health officials, as Palestinians brace for a major offensive on the densely crowded city.
Health officials report conflicting death tolls following the predawn strikes on Monday. The AFP news agency reports 52 casualties, while Reuters states 37 deaths, according to Gaza health officials.
The strikes targeted 14 houses and three mosques, with conflicting reports indicating higher casualties.
Amid escalating tensions, concerns grow over civilian casualties and displacement in Gaza's last relatively safe area.
Over 1.4 million Palestinians, half of Gaza's population, seek refuge in Rafah, exacerbating fears of a humanitarian crisis.
Israel's military claims to have targeted "terror targets" and rescued captives, but Hamas warns of dire consequences if a ground assault occurs in Rafah.
Hamas has condemned Israel for the attacks, saying they represent an “expansion of the scope of the massacres it is committing against our people”.
“The Nazi occupation army’s attack on the city of Rafah tonight… which [has] claimed the lives of more than a hundred martyrs so far, is considered a continuation of the genocidal war and the attempts at forced displacement it is waging against our Palestinian people,” the group said in a press release.