Israeli Airstrikes In Rafah, Border Shooting Incident With Egypt Escalate Tensions In Middle East

Zinger Key Points
  • An Israeli airstrike in Gaza's Rafah kills 45, sparking international condemnation.
  • UNICEF's Catherine Russell describes the attack as "unconscionable" and demanded an immediate ceasefire.

Tensions in the Middle East have escalated sharply with a series of critical events in the past 24 hours.

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s Rafah city on Sunday night resulted in significant casualties, including the deaths of 45 people, igniting a wave of global condemnation.

The attack came after Hamas launched rocket attacks on Israel, including Tel Aviv, from Rafah.

Meanwhile, a “shooting incident on the Egyptian border” involving Israeli and Egyptian forces prompted immediate diplomatic dialogue.

What Happened in Rafah: An Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s Rafah city has sparked a significant international outcry. The strike, which targeted a tent camp, resulted in a massive blaze and the deaths of 45 people, according to Reuters citing local officials. The attack has been condemned by several countries and global organizations, including the United Nations and UNICEF.

France President Emmanuel Macron expressed outrage and demanded an “immediate ceasefire,” highlighting the lack of safe areas for Palestinian civilians in Rafah. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the strikes, horrified by the deaths of displaced persons, including children.

Qatar warned that the strikes could jeopardize renewed mediation efforts for a truce and a hostage release deal.

Catherine Russell, executive director of UNICEF, expressed profound shock at the images of burned children and families emerging from bombed tents in Rafah. In her remarks on social media, she described the reported killing of children sheltering in makeshift tents as “unconscionable” and called for “an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and an end to the senseless killing of children.”

So far, there have been no reactions from top U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Israel stated that the airstrike targeted a Hamas compound, eliminating two commanders. However, Israel's top military lawyer, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer Yerushalmi, called the airstrike “very grave” and confirmed an ongoing investigation.

Border Shooting Incident Raises Israel-Egypt Tension: The Israeli military confirmed a “shooting incident on the Egyptian border” earlier today. Reports from the Times of Israel suggest that one Egyptian soldier was killed and others wounded at the Rafah border crossing, with no Israeli soldiers harmed.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated an investigation and is in dialogue with Egyptian officials.

Central Bank of Israel Keeps Rates Unchanged, Warns of Rising Inflation: The Bank of Israel has kept the policy rate steady at 4.5% for the third consecutive meeting, after a 25-basis point cut in early January.

The decision reflected concerns over potential inflationary pressures due to geopolitical developments, shekel depreciation, supply constraints and global oil prices.

Market reactions: The Israeli shekel weakened 0.4% vis-à-vis the dollar on Monday, while the country’s major domestic stock index, the Tel Aviv 125, as broadly tracked by the iShares MSCI Israel ETF EIS, inched 0.1% lower.

Oil prices, as tracked by the United States Oil Fund USO, rose 0.6%, with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) trading at $78 a barrel.

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Photo: Peter Hermes Furian via Shutterstock

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