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Gaza: Six-year-old Hind Rajab found dead as UN warns against Israeli assault on Rafah
The body of 6-year-old Hind Rajab has been found alongside her family in a car that was fired on by Israeli forces 12 days ago. Two PRCS members who were dispatched to save Hind, who was the only member of her family that survived the attack on their vehicle, were also found dead.
The confirmed death of Hind comes as states and international aid agencies warn against Israel's planned assault on Gaza's southern city of Rafah over concerns about where civilians would evacuate to as the area in Gaza unoccupied by Israel dwindles.
Martin Griffiths, the UN's Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said of the Rafah operation that "there's nowhere left to go in Gaza" and renewed his calls for the protection of civilians.
Alongside Griffiths, the foreign ministers of both Australia and Canada have also warned against such an operation over concerns of the lack of areas to be evacuated to, and the danger an operation poses to civilians.
It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he had ordered the Israeli military to set out a plan for the evacuation of Rafah's population, which has seen an influx in refugees from across Gaza, prior to a ground assault.
Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 28,064 Palestinians since 7 October, with a further 67,611 wounded, according to Gaza's health authorities.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Saturday brushed off a Moody's downgrading of Israel's credit rating, saying the decision linked to the Gaza war was not based on sound economic reasoning and was tantamount to a pessimistic "manifesto".
"The Israeli economy is strong by all measures. It is capable of sustaining all war efforts, on the front line and home front, until, with God's help, victory is achieved," he said in a response to the decision published on Friday.
The Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday his country had exchanged messages with the United States throughout the conflict since Hamas' attack against Israel on 7 October, including about Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
"During this war and in the recent weeks, there was an exchange of messages between Iran and America," Hossein Amirabdollahian said during a visit to Beirut, adding that the US had asked Tehran to request Hezbollah "not to get widely, fully involved in this war against" Israel.
The Iranian foreign minister said during a visit to Lebanon on Saturday that a political solution was the only way to end the Gaza conflict, and that Tehran was in talks with Riyadh on the issue.
He also warned Israel against taking any steps towards a full-scale war against Lebanon, saying that would be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "last day."
The Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday neither Iran nor Lebanon had sought to expand hostilities in the region, as regional tensions simmer.
"Iran and Lebanon confirm that war is not the solution, and that we absolutely never sought to expand it," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told a press conference alongside his Lebanese counterpart in Beirut.
Yemen's Houthi militia held a funeral on Saturday for at least 17 of its members killed during joint US-UK airstrikes targeting the Iran-backed militants, the Houthi-run Saba news agency said.
The Houthis have launched waves of exploding drones and missiles at commercial ships since 19 November in what they say is a response to Israel's military operations in Gaza, prompting Britain and the United States to start retaliatory strikes last month.
"These crimes will not discourage the Yemeni people from continuing their support and backing of their brothers in the Gaza Strip," Saba said in its coverage of the funerals.
Besides the airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, the US and UK have returned the militia to a list of terrorist groups as turmoil from the Israel's war on Gaza spreads through the region.
The Houthi campaign has disrupted international shipping, causing some companies to suspend transits through the Red Sea and instead take the much longer, costlier journey around Africa
Lebanon's Iran-backed armed faction Hezbollah said on Saturday it had seized an Israeli Skylark drone over Lebanese air space "in good condition".
The Skylark is a small, unmanned aerial vehicle typically used for surveillance and produced by Israel-based weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.
The US Central Command announced it had conducted "self-defense strikes" in Yemen on Friday.
According to the US, the strikes were against "two mobile unmanned surface vessels (USV), four mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, and one mobile land attack cruise missile" that were preparing to be launched towards the Red Sea.
Feb. 9 Summary of USCENTCOM Self-Defense Strikes in Yemen— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 10, 2024
On Feb. 9, between the hours of 3 a.m. – 9:40 p.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted self-defense strikes against two mobile unmanned surface vessels (USV), four mobile anti-ship cruise… pic.twitter.com/fbAePAHyPY
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has released a video showing the remains of the car where Hind Rajab and her family were killed, as well as the destroyed ambulance that was dispatched to rescue the family.
In this video, horrifying scenes show the deliberate targeting by the Israeli occupation of the PRCS ambulance, resulting in the killing of our colleagues Yusuf Al-Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, who were just meters away from the child Hind. Hind tragically lost her life alone after… pic.twitter.com/PJiI6vtBei— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) February 10, 2024
Gaza's health ministry has stated that 117 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the last 24 hours, with a further 152 injured.
This brings the total number up to 28,064 killed and a further 67,611 injured by Israel since 7 October.
An Israeli strike about 60 kilometers inside Lebanon's southern border on Saturday targeted a Palestinian figure close to Hamas but he survived, four security sources told Reuters.
Three other people were killed, including one Hezbollah fighter, the security sources said.
The strike was much deeper into Lebanese territory than the usual exchanges of fire between Hamas ally Hezbollah and the Israeli military, which have been mostly limited to the border region. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has cautioned against any forced evacuation of Rafah's population by Israel as it prepares to assault the city.
"Any forced displacement of the population would not relieve Israeli forces of their responsibility to take all feasible measures to protect the civilian population. Civilians who do not evacuate following warnings are still fully protected by international humanitarian law. Many civilians may be unable to heed a warning to evacuations for reasons of health, disability, fear, or lack of any places to go," the statement read.
Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher for HRW said "forcing the over one million displaced Palestinians in Rafah to again evacuate without a safe place to go would be unlawful and would have catastrophic consequences".
"There is nowhere safe to go in Gaza. The international community should take action to prevent further atrocities," she added.
#Israel’s plan to evacuate #Rafah would be unlawful & have catastrophic consequences. There is nowhere safe to go in #Gaza.@JosepBorrellF @vonderLeyen @CharlesMichel: Take action to prevent further atrocities.@HRW’s full statement 👇https://t.co/WxPDBcTB0r pic.twitter.com/nK00KYbmSa— Philippe Dam (@philippe_dam) February 10, 2024
An Israeli drone reportedly struck a car and motorbike in the town of Jadra, north of the costal city of Sidon.
According to Lebanese media, the strike killed at least one person, although it is not known who was targeted.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry has warned of the "extremely dangerous repercussions" of an Israeli assault on the city of Rafah.
"This continued violation of international law and international humanitarian law confirms the necessity of convening the UN Security Council urgently to prevent Israel from causing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe for which everyone who support the aggression bears responsibility," the ministry said.
The Israeli army announced it had carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, striking a building in Bint Jbeil and observation post in Markaba.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned against Israel's upcoming ground assault on Rafah saying such an operation would be "catastrophic and must not proceed".
"An aerial bombardment of the area continues, more than a million people, many living in tents and makeshift shelters, now face a dramatic escalation in this ongoing massacre," MSF said.
"Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and repeated forced displacements have pushed people to Rafah, where they are trapped in a tiny patch of land and have no options," MSF added.
Israel’s declared ground offensive on Rafah would be catastrophic and must not proceed.— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) February 9, 2024
Today's announcement marks a dramatic escalation in this ongoing massacre.
There is no place that is safe in Gaza and no way for people to leave.https://t.co/h3KGMwa7Sk pic.twitter.com/5uzh1cBH0z
Hamas on Saturday warned that any Israeli military operation in the Gazan city of Rafah could lead to "tens of thousands" of dead and injured.
Hamas warned in a statement of catastrophic repercussions of going into the city, where more than one million civilians have fled to escape Israeli bombardment elsewhere in Gaza.
The US ratings agency Moody's downgraded Israel's credit rating Friday due to the impact of its ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza, lowering it by one notch from A1 to A2.
In a statement, Moody's said it had done so after assessing that "the ongoing military conflict with Hamas, its aftermath and wider consequences materially raise political risk for Israel as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, for the foreseeable future."
It was the first time Israel has been downgraded, Bloomberg reported.
Moody's also lowered its outlook for Israel's debt to "negative" due to "the risk of an escalation" with the far more powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that operates along its northern border.
"The weakened security environment implies higher social risk and indicates weaker executive and legislative institutions than Moody's previously assessed," the ratings agency said Friday in the statement explaining its decision.
"At the same time, Israel's public finances are deteriorating and the previously projected downward trend in the public debt ratio has now reversed," it continued.
"Moody's expects that Israel's debt burden will be materially higher than projected before the conflict," it added.
Israeli air strikes that targeted a building in an upscale area near the Syrian capital killed three people early Saturday, a war monitor said.
State media reported that Syrian air defences responded to an Israeli "air attack".
In the latest incident three people were killed, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
He could not immediately confirm whether the dead were fighters.
Rahman added that many other people were injured in the strikes on a neighbourhood hosting "villas for top military and officials."
Palestinian news agency WAFA has confirmed that medical personnel have found the bodies of 6-year-old Hind Rajab and two members of a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance crew that had been dispatched to rescue her.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) confirmed WAFA's report announcing on X that it had found the bodies of Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun. According to PRCS, the ambulance was targeted by Israel as it reached the scene where Hind and her family had been killed.
🚨 Urgent: The Palestine Red Crescent ambulance was discovered bombed the Tal al-Hawa area of #Gaza City, resulting in the killing of crew members Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, who had been missing since a rescue mission for the child Hind Rajab 12 days ago.#NotATarget❌… pic.twitter.com/dCgfeevTd8— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) February 10, 2024