GAZA, Feb. 12- The death toll in the Israeli army’s heavy strikes on the southern city of Rafah and surrounding areas of the Gaza Strip exceeded 100 on Monday, with hundreds of injuries, including women and children, reported the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
About 40 airstrikes on the Rafah area in the early hours of Monday were conducted by the Israeli army, with intensive ground shelling, it said.
The Israeli army said it rescued two hostages after a special forces operation in Rafah. The two were then hospitalized and “in good medical condition.”
Israel conducted “a series of strikes on terror targets” in southern Gaza on Monday, the Israeli army said in a statement earlier.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the ongoing efforts to free hostages held in Gaza and to facilitate more aid into the Palestinian enclave over the phone.
An Israeli government official told Xinhua that the conversation focused on the hostages, approximately 100 of them are still in Gaza after being kidnapped during Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7, 2023.
Additionally, the two leaders discussed Israel’s declared plan to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, as well as the facilitation of more aid into Gaza.
Since the start of the conflict, about half of the residents there have fled to Rafah, adjacent to Egypt, in search of safety.
The border city, which receives food and medicine aid from foreign countries and UN agencies through the Rafah crossing, is crowded with tents on empty agricultural lands, in schools and along roadsides.
The death toll of Palestinians from Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip has risen to 28,176 since Oct. 7, 2023, with 67,784 others injured, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.