The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

‘Operation al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 216

Israel continues to close Rafah crossing as Biden threatens to halt arms shipments

Ceasefire talks are “paused” as delegations leave Cairo. Sources say Israel wants a full invasion of Rafah despite U.S. opposition, while Hamas reiterates its acceptance of the latest deal. Meanwhile, a new mass grave has been unearthed at al-Shifa.


Smoke billows from Israeli airstrikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 9, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)SMOKE BILLOWS FROM ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES IN RAFAH IN THE SOUTHERN GAZA STRIP, MAY 9, 2024. (PHOTO: OMAR ASHTAWY/APA IMAGES)


  • 34,905 + killed* and at least 78,514 wounded in the Gaza Strip.*
  • 497+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,139.
  • 612 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and at least 6,800 injured.***

*Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel on May 9, 2024. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on May 9, this is the latest figure.

*** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” The number of Israeli soldiers wounded is according to Israeli media reports.

Key Developments 

  • Israel kills 167 Palestinians, wounds 400 since Monday, May 6, across Gaza, raising the death toll since October 7 to 34,905 and the number of wounded to 78,514, according to the Gaza health ministry.
  • Biden says that the U.S. will halt arms shipments to Israel if it invades Rafah city.
  • Israeli radio quoting a former official in the Israeli military industry: Israel cannot deal with threats without U.S. arms.
  • Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid says that Biden’s declarations are the result of Netanyahu’s failed direction of the war.
  • Israeli media says that Israel’s war cabinet will meet today to make a “decisive decision” regarding Biden’s declarations.
  • Hamas’s negotiating delegation will leave Cairo for Doha, as the group reiterated its acceptance of the latest proposed ceasefire deal.
  • CIA chief William Burns leaves Qatar for the U.S. as negotiations pause due to the current situation in Rafah.
  • The Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry says that patients’ lives are lost every day due to the closure of the Rafah crossing and the prevention of the delivery of medical supplies and critical cases leaving the Strip.
  • The Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry says that the only dialysis unit in the Rafah district has stopped working.
  • UNRWA says that 80,000-100,000 Palestinians left Rafah in “a new forcible displacement.”
  • Hezbollah announces attacking the Israeli army’s northern division headquarters with rockets. Israel admits one soldier killed and several wounded.
  • Israeli night raids in West Bank and arrest wave continue, one Palestinian killed after succumbing to wounds from Israeli gunfire in Tulkarem.

Israel kills 167 Palestinians since Thursday

The Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry announced that the remaining hospitals in the Gaza Strip received 167 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since Thursday, May 2, while 400 others arrived wounded.

Meanwhile, local media sources reported that, in the past 24 hours, Israeli forces launched a new surprise invasion into the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City amidst heavy airstrikes on the area in addition to the Sabra neighborhood.

According to local sources, several buildings caught fire due to the strikes, as Israeli armored vehicles advanced through 8th street. Thousands of residents fled the neighborhoods towards the city center. In the Shuja’iyyah neighborhood, a strike on a mosque killed 13 people according to reports.

In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli strikes targeted the al-Mighraqa village, Deir al-Balah, and the Nuseirat refugee camp. In Deir al-Balah, thousands of displaced Palestinians continued to pour into the city from Rafah, fleeing Israel’s invasion of the southern Gaza city.

In the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli strikes intensified on the eastern part of Rafah and extended to the center and the west. Israeli strikes targeted several houses and most buildings’ top floors in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood and the town of Shauka. Israeli forces continued to impose the closure of both the Rafah and the Karam Abu Salem crossings.

Palestinians discover a new mass grave at al-Shifa hospital

Palestinian Civil Defense teams uncovered a new mass grave in Gaza City in the surroundings of al-Shifa Hospital, a full month after Israeli forces withdrew from the medical complex.

In early April, two mass graves were already uncovered at al-Shifa, with testimonies from survivors revealing that a massacre had taken place at the medical complex over the course of a two-week siege in late March. The raid destroyed the hospital beyond repair, which included setting entire floors on fire, damaging medical equipment, and destroying structures. Mondoweiss reported on the al-Shifa Hospital massacre in early April.

On Wednesday, the Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry said in a statement that the new mass grave is the third to be unearthed in the vicinity of al-Shifa. The Civil Defense teams extracted 49 decomposed bodies from the new mass grave, according to the ministry, which added that work was still underway to uncover more bodies.

In late April, civil defense teams in Khan Younis discovered the first mass in the surroundings of the Nasser hospital, weeks after Israeli troops left the city. Eventually, four mass graves were found in Khan Younis, containing at least 400 dead bodies, including dozens of corpses with medical tubes and hospital tags on their bodies, indicating that they were patients. Mondoweiss also reported on the story and gathered testimonies from people who flocked to Nasser Hospital in search of missing loved ones.

With the new mass grave found at al-Shifa, the number of mass graves found in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Israeli assault has risen to seven, according to the health ministry, including more than 500 dead bodies.

Ceasefire talks ‘pause’ as CIA chief returns to the US

Israel and Hamas’s negotiating delegations left Cairo on Thursday after two days of negotiations without achieving a new advance in the ceasefire talks. Meanwhile, the head of the CIA, William Burns, who has been mediating the talks alongside Egypt and Qatar, left for the U.S.

Undisclosed sources close to the negotiations told Qatari news network Al-Jazeera that the talks have been “temporarily paused” due to the current situation in Rafah, following the beginning of Israel’s invasion of parts of the city.

Hamas, for its part, reiterated its acceptance of the latest ceasefire and prisoners’ exchange deal put forward by mediators. The deal stipulates three 42-day-long ceasefires during which a prisoner exchange would take place in three stages while Israeli forces would withdraw from the Strip, with the intention of reaching a “durable” ceasefire by the end as the reconstruction of the Strip begins.

On Thursday, NBC quoted Israeli and U.S. sources saying that Israeli negotiators had requested an exception to the deal for Rafah, as Israel insists on continuing the invasion of the city and maintaining control of the two border crossings at its outskirts — Rafah and Karam Abu Salem, which are the only remaining entry points for humanitarian aid into Gaza. Quoted sources said that Israel does not want to commit to a deal that prevents it from pursuing its operations in Rafah.

Simultaneously, U.S. President Joe Biden said that Washington would halt the shipment of offensive arms to Israel if the latter went ahead with a full invasion of Rafah. Israel’s war cabinet is set to meet on Thursday to discuss a response to Biden’s declarations.

Israeli officials have been insisting on an invasion of Rafah, where around 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge, amidst international warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe in case of a full invasion of the city. According to Israel, Hamas’s “remaining” battalions are based in Rafah.

Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades, have continued to target Israeli troops in the north and the center of the Gaza Strip, especially in the Netzarim corridor, while shelling Israeli troops with mortars at the Karam Abu Salem crossing east of Rafah throughout the week.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *