World

'Stop this war': Message from mother, displaced 18 times, who is fleeing the fighting again

Smoke rises near a makeshift camp for displaced Palestinians in the area of Tel al-Sultan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP) (Photo by EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images)

(RAFAH, GAZA) -- Sumaya Samir Al-Tot, a mother-of-one in Rafah, Gaza, said she has been displaced 17 times. On Wednesday, she fled for the 18th.

Sumaya is among one of the more than one million people, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), who have fled the southern city of Rafah in recent weeks. She left on Tuesday among streams of people heading for safety with their belongings piled high on top of cars and rickshaws, some pulled by donkeys, as families are once again fleeing the conflict.

She said her mother, father and sister have all been killed in the conflict so far that began on Oct. 7, 2023.

“We have children, and they are afraid, there is no safety anywhere, as we are now going to Deir al-Balah, but there is no safety, there is no safety anywhere,” the mother-of-one said.

Israel’s assault on Rafah, which it says is essential to target Hamas battalions, has come under greater international scrutiny following a series of strikes on a refugee camp which killed at least 45 people on Sunday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The strikes were described as a “massacre” by UNRWA, while Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they were a “mistake.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said a major fire that broke out was due to a secondary explosion -- possibly of a fuel or weapons container.

Two weapons experts who reviewed photos and video of fragments at the site told ABC News that the munitions used in the strike appear to have been made by a U.S. company.

UNRWA, the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, had effectively stopped working in Rafah, according to Salah al-Faram, who also fled Rafah with his children in tow.

“There is no aid, and we are not working because of the war,” he said. “Even when we work, we work for a day and stop for a week. The situation is bad here.”

“I haven't slept for two days, the bombing is violent, although we are in Rafah,” he said. “But the bombing is intense. My little girl cries and cannot sleep, especially yesterday. This I will evacuate.”

In recent months ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas have broken down and, at least for now, there is no end to the war in sight.

Exhausted, Sumaya had a message for all the parties involved in this devastating conflict.

“I send a message to the whole world, to Hamas, and [Hamas leader] Sinwar to stop this war, because we are tired,” she said. “Children cannot sleep at night.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


North Korea sends balloons full of manure and trash over the border to South Korea

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(SEOUL, South Korea and LONDON) -- Around 260 air balloons carrying bags of manure and trash have been spotted across South Korea on Wednesday after they were sent over the border from North Korea, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The incident reportedly stems from an incident on Sunday when North Korea criticized civic groups in Seoul for sending propaganda leaflets across the border first and subsequently threatened to send filth balloons back to South Korea as a countermeasure, ABC News has learned from the North Korean vice defense minister on the regime's official news outlet.

The regime in North Korea has long complained about this type of action as civic groups have been known to send rice, essential medicine and leaflets accusing the North Korean regime of dictatorship.

The group has been using air balloons for years and reportedly mainly consist of North Korean defectors living in Seoul who are trying to inform the people of North Korea.

The North Korean leader's sister put out a statement Wednesday night referring to the air balloon as "freedom of speech" from the North Korean side and warned of more to come.

"Kim Yo Jong explaining that the filth balloons were sent by the people, and then warning that it will happen again proves that it is the regime that is behind the action," South Korea's Unification Ministry said Thursday, reprimanding North Korea for limiting people's right to express.

This is not the first time North Korea has sent filth balloons to their southern neighbors -- the regime did the same back in 2016 in response to action taken by civic groups performing the same kinds of stunts.

A nationwide warning message in South Korea was issued shortly after the retaliation from the north on Tuesday night and informed citizens to stay away from unidentified balloon remains if or when they come across any.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Person killed after being sucked into plane's turbine engine on runway

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(LONDON) -- A person has died after being sucked up into the running turbine engine of a plane at Amsterdam’s international airport, officials said.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines made the announcement on Wednesday that a “person ended up in a running aircraft engine” of a plane that was bound for Billund, Denmark at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, according to KLM.

“A fatal incident took place at Schiphol today during which a person ended up in a running aircraft engine,” KLM said following the incident. “Sadly, this person has died. The flight concerned was KL1341 bound for Billund. We are currently taking care of the passengers and employees who witnessed the incident at Schiphol.”

Officials did not immediately disclose the identity of the person who was killed or say if they were a passenger, employee or bystander.

Schiphol handles approximately 72 million passengers a year and is the third busiest airport in Europe.

Authorities say they are currently investigating the circumstances that led up to the incident and that they will be releasing more information as soon as it becomes available.

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Volcanic eruption in Iceland spews lava over 160 feet; famed Blue Lagoon evacuated

Another volcanic eruption is seen from a helicopter flight Landhelgisgasla Islands for the fifth time since December on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland on May 29, 2024. (Almannavarnadeild/Anadolu via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) -- A massive volcanic eruption at the Sundhnúkur crater in Iceland on Wednesday spewed lava over 160 feet into the air, officials announced.

The crater is located on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland, where authorities evacuated the seaside town of Grindavík, including the country's biggest tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

This marks the fifth and most powerful eruption in the region since December and the eighth since the volcanic system became active three years ago in March 2021 after not experiencing an eruption for 800 years.

Most of the 4,000 residents of Grindavik were permanently evacuated in November 2023 due to ongoing volcanic activity.

Grindavík sits roughly 30 miles south of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik.

The eruption began at approximately 12:46 p.m. local time on Wednesday, which prompted a fairly intense flow of lava surrounding Hagafell volcano to the east and then south towards the Melhólsnáma mine, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).

The lava eruptions reached 164 feet high and the length of the fissure was around 2 miles, the agency said.

The extrusion rate, or the rate of the lava flow, is roughly estimated at 1,500-2,000 cubic meters per second, according to the IMO

The agency warned that lava flowing from the southernmost opening of the fissure is now less than a kilometer away from the lava barriers north of Grindavík.

"The first assessment of scientists is that the beginning of this eruption is more powerful than in previous eruptions," the office said in a statement.

Officials warned that gas pollution would be seen towards the southeast of the region and later on Wednesday, could travel east to Selvogur and Ölfus, Icland.

By Thursday, gas pollution is expected to be carried to the northeast and could be felt in the capital area of Reykjavik.

The eruption Wednesday comes nearly three weeks after the end of a previous eruption that started on March 16 in Hagafell and Stora-Skogfell on the same Reykjanes peninsula and flowed for eight weeks.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


World Central Kitchen pauses operations in Rafah, aid workers warn humanitarian response on brink of 'collapse'

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(RAFAH, GAZA) -- World Central Kitchen (WCK) said it has paused its operations in Rafah due to "ongoing attacks" by Israeli forces as aid organizations warned the humanitarian response is on the brink of "collapse."

The announcement comes as Israel's offensive on Rafah -- the southern city on the Gaza-Egypt border -- continues with a series of strikes resuming Wednesday morning. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike struck tents sheltering displaced people, killing at least 45 civilians, which Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a "tragic incident."

"In the face of Israeli operations in Rafah, countless families are being forced to flee once again," WCK said in a statement on the social platform X. "Ongoing attacks have forced us to pause work at our main kitchen in Rafah and relocate many of our community kitchens further north."

Despite the fighting, WCK said in its statement that it provided 100,000 meals on Monday and would continue to increase capacity this week, adding that 58 of its aid trucks have entered Gaza since Sunday.

The group had only recently resumed operations after seven workers were accidentally killed in an Israeli airstrike at the beginning of April.

WCK isn't the only humanitarian organization struggling to continue aid operations. Médecins sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said in a press release that "no amount of meaningful aid has entered the enclave" since May 6.

Additionally, MSF said staff and patients at trauma stabilization point in Rafah were forced to flee on Monday night due to intense fighting, effectively putting a stop to all medical aid at the facility.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped leaflets in Rafah on May 6 and sent text messages in Arabic calling for about 100,000 people to evacuate the eastern part of the city and to head north to the Al-Mawasi humanitarian corridor ahead of a long-promised major ground invasion into Rafah.

About 1 million people, as of Tuesday, have since fled Rafah in search of safety, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

Despite the heavy fighting, the White House maintained on Tuesday that Israel did not cross any red lines in Rafah. White House national security spokesman John Kirby condemned the loss of life in Rafah over the weekend but did not condemn Israel directly, saying Israel "has a right to go after Hamas."

In a joint statement, 19 aid agencies -- including MSF -- said Israel's offensive has "crumbled" the ability of aid groups and medical teams to respond and said there will be an "an acceleration in deaths from starvation, disease and denied medical assistance" unless a cease-fire is reached.

"As Israeli attacks intensify on Rafah, the unpredictable trickle of aid into Gaza has created a mirage of improved access while the humanitarian response is in reality on the verge of collapse," the statement read.

The aid organization said nearly every hospital in Gaza is in an area that has been given evacuation orders and all are close to running out of fuel and supplies.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday in a post on X that WHO workers and partners were able to reach Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City for the first time since May 13, delivering fuel, beds and medical supplies to meet the needs of 1,500 patients. The hospital is currently at twice the capacity it was designed for, but no emergency surgery can be performed due to the lack of specialized staff, Tedros said.

"Gaza's health system has effectively been dismantled." the statement said. "Medical workers across Gaza say patients are dying daily due to a shortage in medical supplies, as doctors, nurses, and other health workers continue to be killed or forcibly displaced."

Since Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, and Israel responded by declaring war, more than 36,171 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 81,420 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 1,700 Israelis have been killed and more than 8,700 have been injured, according to Israeli officials.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


India records its hottest temperature ever amid severe heat wave

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(NEW DELHI, INDIA) -- One of the hottest countries on Earth has recorded its highest temperature ever.

India recorded a temperature of 52.3 degrees Celsius -- or about 126 degrees Fahrenheit -- on Wednesday afternoon at a weather station in Mungeshpur, a suburb of New Delhi, according to the India Meteorological Department.

The temperature soared to more than 9 degrees Celsius higher than expected, according to the IMD.

Hot winds from northwestern India contributed to the hotter-than-expected temperatures, ABC News partner New Delhi Television (NDTV) reported.

The previous record at the Mungeshpur station occurred in 2002 -- 49.2 degrees Celsius (120.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to NDTV. The previous record for hottest temperature recorded in India was in 2016, in Rajasthan, -- 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the IMD.

The India Meteorological Department released a severe heat wave warning for the region as a result of the forecast. Heat waves in India are considered "severe" once temperatures reach 6.5 degrees Celsius higher than normal.

A red alert health noticed was also issued in New Delhi, indicating a "very high likelihood of developing heat illness and heat stroke in all ages" for vulnerable groups within the region's population of 30 million.

Local government officials set limits on water usage, citing a shortage, and threatened to fine those using water unnecessarily, such as to wash a car, 2,000 rupees -- or $24 -- Reuters reported.

Rain forecast in New Delhi for Wednesday evening could raise humidity levels, according to the IMD.

India is one of the hottest countries in Asia, known for its tropical climate and long-lasting summer conditions. The early-season high temperatures could be a predicator to a scorching summer to come.

Copernicus, Europe's climate change service, has recorded 11 consecutive months of record-warm temperatures -- a trend that is likely to continue once the month of May has concluded.

Rising global temperatures are leading to longer and more frequent heat waves, according to climate scientists.

Sweltering heat that occurred across Asia in late April was 45 times more likely because of climate change, according to a study by the World Weather Attribution.

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Killing of 5-year-old girl in Gaza sparks international condemnation as war continues

A mural of Hind Rajab, the 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in Gaza, along with several family members and paramedics, by artist Emmalene Blake in Dublin, May 15, 2024. (Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

(LONDON) -- "Come take me, will you?"

It's Jan.29, 2024, and the fighting is raging in Gaza City. The voice on the telephone belongs to 5-year-old Hind Rajab, alone and trapped in a car with her extended family, talking to a Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) dispatcher.

"Do you want me to come and take you?" Rana Faqih, the dispatcher, replied.

"I'm so scared, please come. Please call someone to come and take me," Hind said.

The PRCS released the audio of the phone call, making an international appeal to return Hind to safety.

The appeal went viral, but neither Hind, nor the rest of the group with which she was travelling, survived. Twelve days later, her body was discovered in the charred remains of the vehicle.

The phone calls

Hind and members of her family -- her aunt, uncle and four cousins -- were evacuating from Gaza City that morning, heading south, when they came under fire. The first to call emergency services was Layan Hamadeh, Hind's 15-year-old cousin.

"They are shooting at us," Layan told dispatcher Omar al-Qam in audio recordings provided to ABC News by the PRCS. "They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me."

"Are you hiding?" Al-Qam asked.

"Yes, in the car, we're next to the tank," Layan said.

Al-Qam asked again whether Layan was in the car. Then heavy gunfire could be heard, followed by screams, and the line went silent.

Moments later, Hind picked up the phone.

"They are dead," she told Rana Faqih, the Palestinian Red Crescent dispatcher, based miles away in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

Faqih spoke to Hind for several hours, as the PRCS sent an ambulance with two emergency responders, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, to rescue her. Faqih and Hind read the Quran together and played counting games to distract Hind from the devastation around her.

"It was a voice of a sad and terrified kid," Faqih told ABC News. 

"She told me, 'It's dark, I am afraid of darkness, it's really dark out there.' So I told her, 'Do you know how to play hide and seek?' She said yes. … But honestly, I didn't know that I will be counting with for 12 days," said Faqih, referring to how many days passed before Hind's body was found.

The ambulance never arrived. It, too, was discovered destroyed and the two responders dead 12 days later, barely a quarter of a mile from where Hind's vehicle was found.

The PRCS said they coordinated with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) when they sent the ambulance to rescue Hind. The IDF has denied that it had coordinated with the PRCS to create a safe passageway, saying they were not fighting in that area at the time.

Speaking to ABC News from Gaza City, Hind's mother, Wissam Hamada, recalled the moment she was able to speak to Hind, when the PRCS dispatcher patched her into the phone call to help calm her daughter. Hamada said Hind was a "very smart" and "ambitious" child who had dreams of becoming a dentist.

"God bless her," Hamada told ABC News. "And she didn't cry. Hind, when I was on the phone with her, my heart was burning and I was crying. She was very strong."

"I swear, I never imagined this for a moment," Hamada said of her daughter's death. "I never imagined for a second and it never crossed my mind for a minute that she would come back to me a martyr, not for a moment or a second."

'An unspeakable tragedy'

The U.S. State Department called for Israel to investigate the circumstances of Hind's death, with spokesperson Matthew Miller saying in February that it was "devastated by the reports about the death of Hind Rajab," and that we expect those results on a timely fashion and they should include accountability measures as appropriate."

Satellite imagery taken on Jan. 29 at 15:31 local time and verified by ABC News captured four armored military vehicles on a street roughly 200 yards north of where Hind's body was found. Despite the satellite imagery appearing to show the presence of Israeli military vehicles, Israel initially denied its forces were involved in Hind's death, declaring in a statement on Feb. 25: "It appears that IDF troops were not present near the vehicle or within firing range of the described vehicle in which the girl was found."

In April, however, the Washington Post published an investigation into Hind's death based on dispatcher recordings, photos and videos of the aftermath, and more than a dozen interviews. The newspaper reports that they also spoke with military, satellite, munitions and audio experts as part of the investigation. They determined that there were more than a dozen Israeli armored vehicles visible within a quarter mile of the Hamada family car, in which Hind Rajab died, and that the sound of gunfire from the call with Layan, as well as photographic evidence of the bullet holes in the car, were consistent with weapons used by the Israeli army.

The IDF referred ABC News to their previous statement when asked for further comment in light of the Washington Post investigation. However, a State Department spokesperson recently told ABC News that "the Israelis told us there had, in fact, been IDF units in the area, but the IDF had no knowledge of or involvement in the type of strike described."

At a background briefing last month, ABC News asked the U.S. State Department whether they were satisfied with Israel's preliminary investigation. A spokesperson said that Hind's death was "an unspeakable tragedy," and that the State Department would ask Israel about the findings of the Washington Post investigation.

On May 21, four months after Hind's phone call pleading for rescue, Mohamad Habehh, a member of American Muslims for Palestine, heckled Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he testified on Capitol Hill, accusing him and the U.S. of culpability in Hind's death.

The State Department issued a new statement last week, saying they were "devastated" by Hind Rajab's death, and that they had "repeatedly raised this case and sought more information from multiple officials with the government of Israel and the U.N., both when the initial report broke and when the vehicle itself was found with bodies inside."

"The Israelis told us there had, in fact, been IDF units in the area, but the IDF had no knowledge of or involvement in the type of strike described," the State Department statement continued. "The Israeli government also told us they would welcome any details to assist in investigating. We continue to welcome a full investigation into this terrible tragedy."

Hind's legacy

Hind's story, Faqih told ABC News, is just one among many as the war in Gaza continues, with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians now forced to leave Rafah, the southern enclave to which more than a million Palestinians have fled for safety since the war began.

However, Hind's death has sparked widespread outrage as the audio of the PRCS call went viral on social media. Her name has become a rallying cry across the world as Israel's conduct in the war against Hamas in Gaza, launched after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel, which Israel says killed about 1,200 people, comes under increasing international condemnation. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

Neither Hamada nor Faqih, who spent so many hours on the phone with Hind, have much faith in the outcome of any investigation into the little girl's death.

"What I am seeing on the ground, it's not only about Hind," Faqih said. "If we want to talk about the situation in Gaza … I don't trust that it will change."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


South Africans head to the polls in high-stakes election

Voters queue outside a polling station in Juju Valley, Polokwane, on May 29, 2024, during South Africa's general election. (Paul Botes/AFP via Getty Images)

(LONDON and PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Millions of South Africans are heading to the polls as voting opens in South Africa’s national and provisional elections.

At least 27 million people are registered to vote across South Africa’s nine provinces, according to South Africa’s Electoral Commission, in elections seen as the most crucial in three decades.

It is the first time in 30 years South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party is not assured a majority after sweeping to power in 1994 at the end of apartheid, led by former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) and lines formed early across schools, city halls, community centers and other designated polling stations across the country.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and first lady Tshepo Motsepe on Wednesday morning cast their votes at Hitekani Primary School in Soweto, Johannesburg.

“This is the day that South Africa decides,” he said addressing the media.

How do the elections work?

South Africans do not vote directly for the president, but instead cast ballots to elect a new parliament known as the National Assembly. Votes determine which parties -- or alliances -- get seats in parliament according to their share of the national vote. The 400-member National Assembly then elects the head of state for the next five-year term.

Since 1994, the ANC has held a parliamentary majority, winning 57.5% in South Africa’s last national elections in 2019. However, several polls have projected the ANC’s support is hovering at around 40% this cycle.

This could mean the ANC may have to seek coalition partners to remain in power -- unchartered waters for the party and South Africa’s young democracy.

What are the key issues for voters?

Although it is Africa’s most advanced economy, South Africa has an unemployment rate of 32.4%, the highest in the world and a figure 10 points higher than when the ANC first came to power in 1994 as young people account for over half of the nations unemployed.

Unemployment has fueled inequality, poverty and crime with South Africa recording one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, particularly in densely populated townships.

A string of corruption scandals involving ANC figures have tainted the party’s perception in recent memory as many young voters without the lived experience of apartheid or the same sentimental connection to the party are growing disillusioned and losing faith in the democratic process.

Scheduled rolling mass blackouts -- known to South Africans as "load shedding" -- have become the bane of households and businesses across the country, as state utility company Eskom grapples with scandals and an inability to generate enough electricity to meet demand.

Who are the Key Contenders?

The ANC faces fierce challenges from South Africa’s two biggest opposition parties -- The Democratic Alliance (DA) of John Steenhuisen and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of firebrand Julius Malema.

South Africa’s embattled former President Jacob Zuma has also shaken up the elections, abandoning the ANC to back a new party named after the now-disbanded military wing of the ANC uMkhonto we Sizwe, meaning "Spear of the Nation" in Zulu.

Polling stations are set to close at 9 p.m. local time with the final results expected on Sunday.

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'Parade of planets' on June 3: Here’s what it will really look like

Anton Petrus/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Before skywatchers begin their countdown for the brief planetary alignment expected next month, some astronomical debunking has proved there may be less of a sky show after all.

In the early morning hours of June 3, six planets, including Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn will momentarily align on the ecliptic path, however, experts say they will not all be visible from Earth with the naked eye.

"People who plan to rise early and step outside on June 3 expecting to see the bloated disk of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn in a single glance will be, at the very least, quite disappointed," prominent broadcast meteorologist Joe Rao wrote in a recent debunking column for Space.

The alleged "parade of planets" recently gained social media attention after Star Walk, a planetarium app, shared an article about the alignment, encouraging users to view the planets through its Sky Tonight stargazing tool.

The planetary alignment, or what astronomers call conjunction, according to NASA, will occur across the massive swath of sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn may be spotted with the naked eye, but you'll need a telescope or high-powered binoculars to see Neptune and Uranus," Star Walk claimed in an article published on April 25.

Star Walk shared the varying magnitudes of each planet's projected locations and the expected times they will rise into view on June 3: Late-night onward Saturn (mag 1.1) and Neptune (mag 7.9), before dawn, Mars (mag 1.0), and at dawn, Uranus (mag 5.8), Jupiter (mag -2.0), and Mercury (mag -1.4).

So what is standing in the way of Earth-dwellers' view of the astronomical occurrence? Rao explains that the planetary positioning with each other and the sun will block most chances of a clear view.

Mercury and Jupiter's proximity to the sun and location on the east-northeast horizon will likely be "masked by the brilliant glow of morning twilight," according to Rao. However, he notes those gazing up from a flat horizon without trees or buildings may be able to view both planets through binoculars.

For Uranus -- our solar system's icy, seventh planet from the sun -- views on June 3 will only be visible from "very dark, non-light polluted skies," according to Rao. Similarly to Mercury and Jupiter, Uranus is expected to rise just an hour before the sun and will likely be shielded by the twilight, he notes.

Neptune, the most distant planet from the sun, is far too dim to be viewed from Earth without equipment, according to Rao, who wrote, "no chance of seeing that planet either, unless you have access to a dark sky, a star chart and at the very least a good pair of binoculars or a telescope."

With increasing chances of a slight view, Saturn is expected to rise from the east-southeast horizon around 2 a.m. ET, according to Rao, however, he notes the "yellowish-white tint" of the distant planet will be slight and the rings of the planet are "invisible unless you're using a telescope."

While most of the lore surrounding the "parade of planets" has been debunked, Rao wrote that skywatchers can expect an equipment-free view of Mars on June 3 around 4:00 a.m. ET, which will be shining in a "relatively bright orange light."

In addition to the Mars spectacle, the moon will be in its waning crescent phase, the eighth and final phase of the moon's monthly cycle, where the thinnest sliver of the celestial body is in view, according to NASA.

"Early risers will see a lovely waning crescent moon hanging low in the eastern sky," Rao wrote.

Planetary alignment is not uncommon along the ecliptic path, with the last occurrence seen in the Northern Hemisphere on April 8.

In 2023, the five-planet alignment of Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus and Mars occurred on March 28.

"You're worrying that planetary alignments are rare, but honestly, we get one every couple of years," Bill Cooke, who heads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center, told ABC News' Good Morning America at the time.

Looking to the future of solar system shows, Cooke suggested at the time that waiting until Sept. 8, 2040, for the rare alignment of Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mars, will offer the best chances at views.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Israeli government facing increased condemnation, diplomatic pressure over latest Rafah air strikes

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(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. State Department on Tuesday expressed its "deep concern" over Israeli air strikes Sunday in the southern Gaza city of Rafah that set fire to a tent camp that housed displaced Palestinians, reportedly causing 50 deaths and injuring 249 others, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

"As soon as the United States saw reports of this incident, we reached out to the government of Israel to express our deep concern over what happened, ask for more information and urge them to undertake a full investigation,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during his press briefing Tuesday. 

He said in response, the Israeli government had promised a more extensive review that would be “swift, comprehensive and transparent,” and that the U.S. would be “watching those results closely.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that the incident was a "tragic mishap."

U.S. officials told ABC News that they've received information from Israeli officials that they believe the strike may have ignited a nearby fuel storage tank some 100 meters away from the tent camp, or just under 330 feet.

A White House National Security Council spokesperson on Monday said that the "devastating images" coming out of Rafah are "heartbreaking." The spokesperson also maintained the White House's position that while Israel "has a right to go after" Hamas, it also must protect civilians.

Prior to Sunday's attack, more than 35,709 people in Gaza had been killed and more than 79,990 injured since Hamas' surprise Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 1,700 Israelis have been killed and 8,700 have been injured, according to Israeli officials.

ABC News' Britt Clennett, in Tel Aviv, Israel, heard from people who said they essentially watched their neighbors being burned alive. She spoke with "Start Here" about the air strikes, and developments in their aftermath.

START HERE: Britt, what happened here?

CLENNETT: So we saw those images – screams of horror we could hear and what looked like a burning inferno. The frightful, frantic moments just after Israeli strikes really engulfed a refugee camp in western Rafah on Sunday night. There were desperate attempts to put out the flames and pull out anyone that they could from the blaze. Many people treated with severe burns and shrapnel injuries. There were images of charred and dismembered bodies, you know, and these are the images prompting an outcry now from global leaders.

START HERE: But Britt, what was the strike? What was the intent of it? Was this focused on a civilian community, or what happened?

CLENNETT: So the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) said that this was a bombing that targeted senior Hamas militants in a precision strike, which really appears to have ignited fires that spread very quickly through those tents and makeshift accommodation. Israeli officials have now spent much of the time in the aftermath of this scrambling to find out what went wrong in Rafah. You know, how did this precision strike, many people are asking, using specialized munitions with reduced warheads, you know, result in a firestorm which killed dozens and injured scores more? Then we heard from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the strike on Sunday was a tragic mishap and that the Israelis are carrying out an investigation into what went wrong.

START HERE: What was the reaction? Because that also seems like part of the story as well, right? Reaction not just from Gaza but from around the world.

CLENNETT: There are a lot of aid groups lining up to condemn this strike. Israel's government is facing diplomatic pressure on unprecedented levels over its war in Gaza, while also dealing with pressure at home to return the hostages. Now, this strike – one of the deadliest we've seen in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza – it came just two days after the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which arbitrates between states, ordered Israel to stop its operation in Rafah immediately. So some aid groups are saying, well, this is a slap in the face. And we've heard from the U.N.'s human rights chief, who said the attack suggested that there had been no apparent change in the methods and the means of warfare used by Israel that have already led to so many civilian deaths. So this is expected to have a lot of geopolitical weight, and it adds to this growing isolation that we're seeing of Israel on the world stage.

START HERE: That makes me think of the U.S. response, because President Biden had talked about the consequences of firing on civilian areas. Does this cross a threshold for the U.S. now?

CLENNETT: Rafah has always been a major sticking point. Now, we have heard from the National Security Council spokesperson calling the images out of Rafah devastating and heartbreaking, adding that Israel must protect civilians, though maintaining the White House position that Israel has a right to go after Hamas. We know that that is something that the white House has said, that Israel has a right to self-defend and to defend its civilians. However, in the face of growing condemnation and the fact that the U.S. is a supplier of arms which are used in Gaza, this all combined creates a lot of pressure for Biden.

START HERE: Can we talk about the wider view of Rafah here? How populated is it even right now? Because I know Israel had issued evacuation orders to, you know, get out of Rafah. It's not safe here anymore. But it seems so difficult to move safely. It seems like people are unclear what awaits them anywhere else. But if you do stay there, does it seem like more of this is going to be on the way?

CLENNETT: So the population of Rafah was about 1.4 million before people started to move around. The U.N. said 800,000 people, about half of the Rafah population, had evacuated. As soon as I heard about these strikes, I spoke to a family who I have been speaking to since the start of this war. They've moved five times, and now they're in western Rafah. They said that they could hear the ambulances, that they could hear the explosions. And so I think it was important that, you know, we are reminded that these are real people with real stories, with real lives.

And when I asked this family, you know, "Are you going to leave?" They said, well, we haven't had the directive from the IDF yet. But certainly, all these strikes are creating so much fear for them that they're wondering whether they should just pack their bags again and go. The question is, where do you go when aid groups are saying nowhere is safe in Gaza right now?

START HERE: And that is the phrase that U.N. representatives have been saying, that it is literally not safe anywhere. So good luck finding some neighborhood that's going to be unaffected from here on out. Britt Clennett, there in Tel Aviv, thank you so much.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Israel-Gaza live updates: Weapons in deadly Rafah strike may be US-made: Experts

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (Photo by EYAD BABA/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) -- As the Israel-Hamas war crosses the seven-month mark, negotiations are apparently stalled to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization, and Israeli forces continue to launch incursions in the southern Gazan town of Rafah ahead of a possible large-scale invasion.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 30, 12:24 PM
Gaza pier built by US Army expected to be working again within a week

The damaged components of the U.S. pier built to funnel aid into Gaza are back at the Port of Ashdod undergoing repairs, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

The system is expected to be back in operation on Gaza's coast within a week, the official said.

-ABC News' Matt Seyler

May 29, 4:25 PM
Evidence indicates weapons used in deadly Rafah strike are US-made: Experts

Evidence indicates a weapon used by Israel in the Rafah strike -- that killed 50 people and injured 249 others -- on May 26 appears to be made by a U.S.-owned company, two weapons experts who reviewed photos and video of fragments at the site told ABC News.

Weapon fragments seen in video are consistent with a U.S.-made "small diameter bomb," which includes the GBU-39/B, or B/B. These types of SDB/GBU-39 weapons can carry a 37 pound warhead, consistent with statements from the IDF about what weapons were used in the strike, Trevor Ball, a former U.S. Army explosive ordinance disposal specialist, said.

"We used two small rockets, 17 kg warhead, that were fired from aircraft to hit, precisely. We've used this kind of ammunition before," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani told ABC News when asked about what weapons were used in the strike.

Ball identified a series of numbers beginning with “81873" marked on one fragment seen in video reviewed by ABC News. This is the Commercial and Government Entity Code, or CAGE Code, assigned by the U.S. government to aerospace manufacturing company Woodward, based in Colorado, according to U.S. government records.

A second former U.S. military explosive ordinance disposal specialist confirmed the fragments were consistent with the GBU-39, but asked to not be named by ABC News.

All sales of GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs to foreign entities require the State Department’s approval, but a U.S. official says Israel may have also procured the munitions through direct commercial sales that don’t meet the value threshold -- $25 million in Israel’s case -- for congressional review and public notification.

In the days following the Oct. 7 attack, Israel rushed to back up its stockpiles, including its supply of the small diameter bombs by any available means, the official said. ABC News has not confirmed if the weapons Israel received after Oct. 7 were used in the May 26 Rafah strike.

When asked if the bombs used in the strike were provided by the U.S., deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said reporters needed to ask the Israelis during a briefing on May 28.

-ABC News' Chris Looft, Helena Skinner, Britt Clennett, Sohel Uddin, Luis Martinez, Matt Seyler, Shannon Crawford, Ellie Kaufman and Camilla Alcini

May 29, 3:50 PM
World Central Kitchen suspends operations in Rafah over safety

World Central Kitchen has suspended its humanitarian efforts in Rafah due to safety concerns. Jose Andre's aid group had restarted their relief efforts in Gaza after seven aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike, sparking international outrage over the protection of civilians in Gaza.

The group will continue to operate elsewhere in Gaza.

"In the face of Israeli operations in Rafah, countless families are being forced to flee once again. Ongoing attacks have forced us to pause work at our main kitchen in Rafah and relocate many of our community kitchens further north. The situation is dire but WCK's Palestinian team—all directly impacted by the war—is showing up every day to support neighbors in need," WCK said in a statement Wednesday.

"Yesterday we provided almost 100,000 meals and will increase capacity this week as 58 of our aid trucks have entered Gaza since Sunday," WCK said.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

May 29, 3:48 PM
War expected to last through end of year, Israeli official says

Israel expects that the war in Gaza will likely be long, lasting for at least seven more months of fighting against Hamas, a senior Israeli official said Wednesday.

"We expect another seven months of combat in order to shore up our achievement and realize what we define as the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s military and governing capabilities," Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of the Israeli national security council, said in a radio interview to Kann News.

-ABC News' Dana Savir

May 29, 2:21 PM
Israel has 'tactical control' over Philadelphi corridor in Gaza: IDF

Israeli Defense Forces have "tactical control over the Philadelphi corridor" in Gaza, an IDF official told reporters Wednesday.

"IDF has tactical control over the Philadelphi corridor, which does mean it doesn't mean that we have boots on the ground across all of the corridor, but it means that we can control and we have the ability to cut off the oxygen line that Hamas has used for replenishing and movement in and around that area," the IDF official said.

-ABC News' Bruno Nota

May 29, 2:18 PM
Kirby says he hopes for end to war ‘as soon as possible’

After comments from Israeli officials predicted the war in Gaza would last through the end of the year, White House national security communications adviser John Kirby expressed a desire to reach an end much sooner than that -- “as soon as possible,” he said.

“I’ll let the defense minister speak for his own views and opinions. Our view, in our opinion, is we gotta get this hostage deal now. The time is now to do it -- to get that temporary cease-fire and to end this conflict as soon as possible,” Kirby said.

“I can tell you that President Biden is committed to seeing that we find a way to end this conflict. And to end as soon as practicable.”

Kirby confirmed that there is a “fresh” proposal on the table that the Israels are “fully supportive of,” but it is too “fresh” to provide details on. He emphasized that the Biden administration still believes there is a path for a cease-fire deal that could “lead to something more sustainable” and a “potential end of the conflict.”

Kirby also said the fighting “could end tomorrow if Mr. Sinwar did the right thing and agreed to this deal,” referring to the Hamas leader.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

May 29, 1:30 PM
Blinken reacts to 'horrific' Rafah strike, questions whether Israeli gains are worth consequences

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the catastrophic strike over the weekend in Rafah -- becoming the first top-level U.S. official to publicly respond to the attack in detail.

"The incident a couple days ago was horrific," he said. "I don't think anyone who has seen the images cannot be deeply affected by them, just on a basic human level."

Blinken was also asked about reports indicating that the U.S. supplied the weapons used in the strike; he said he couldn't yet say where they came from, but if Israel's claims that it used small diameter munitions were true, the incident illustrated how even precision attacks could cause immense damage to civilians in Rafah.

"I think we also see that even limited, focused, targeted attacks, designed to deal with terrorists who've killed innocent civilians that are plotting to kill more -- even those kinds of operations can have terrible, horrific, unintended consequences," he said.

Blinken then said it was "very important in this moment after Israel has had real success in helping to destroy Hamas' capacity to repeat October 7th" that Israel "has to ask whether, and especially in the absence of a plan for the day after in Gaza, further incremental gains against Hamas, but gains that may not be durable in terms of Hamas' defeat in the absence of a plan--how that stacks up against some of the, again, unintended, but horrific consequences of military action in a place where the people you're going after are so closely embedded with civilians."

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford

May 28, 5:15 PM
Newly released video shows Israeli hostage in captivity

A video showing Israeli hostage Alexsander Trufanov, who was captured by Hamas on Oct. 7, was publicly released by the Hostage Families Forum on Tuesday.

"The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team, which will be able to lead to a deal for the return of all the hostages - the living to rehabilitation and the murdered to burial," the Hostage Families Forum said in the release with the video.

Israel submitted a new cease-fire proposal to negotiators in Egypt on Monday. They are now awaiting a response from Hamas, according to an Egyptian security source who spoke with ABC News.

-ABC News' Dorit Long and Marwa Mouaki

May 28, 5:07 PM
21 killed as explosions continue in Rafah following Sunday's deadly strike

At least 21 people were killed in an attack near the International Medical Corps American hospital as explosions continue in Rafah on Monday night and Tuesday, according to Palestinians on the ground and local authorities.

Of the 21 people killed, 14 of them were female, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said Tuesday. Their ages have not yet been released.

These bombings were not in the exact same location as the strike on May 26 that killed 50 people and injured at least 249 others.

-ABC News' Diaa Ostaz

May 28, 4:42 PM
Nikki Haley signs artillery shells in Israel: 'Finish them! America loves Israel!'

Former U.S. presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley visited the northern Israeli border on Tuesday, meeting with Israeli soldiers and Israelis.

During her visit, Haley visited an Israel Defense Forces post with soldiers serving on the northern border.

Haley stopped and signed artillery shells, writing, "Finish them! America loves Israel!" on some of them.

-ABC News' Ellie Kaufman

May 28, 3:51 PM
1 million Palestinians have now fled Rafah: UNRWA

One million Palestinians have been forced to flee Rafah over the last three weeks in search of safety, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Heavy bombardment continued in Gaza overnight, including in Tal Al Sultan, where the U.N. main offices in Gaza are located, according to UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

Most of the UNRWA staff could not make it to work as they are packing up and moving. The UNRWA is also running out of medical supplies and basic human medicines, according to Lazzarini.

Just over 200 trucks with humanitarian supplies were picked up in southern Gaza in the last three weeks as needs continue to increase exponentially, Lazzarini said.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

May 28, 3:46 PM
UN secretary-general condemns Rafah strike, says ICJ ruling is 'binding'

The United Nations secretary-general has condemned the deadly strike on Rafah "in the strongest terms," saying Antonio Guterres is "heartbroken by the images of the killed and injured," his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Secretary-General reiterates his demand for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. He recalls the recent orders of the International Court of Justice, which are binding and must be complied with," Dujarric said.

"The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is now compounded by the unconscionable prospect of a man-made famine," Dujarric said.

-ABC News' Ellie Kaufman

May 28, 3:45 PM
Sunday's Rafah strike 'shouldn't have happened,' IDF says

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani admitted to a "mishap" in Sunday's Rafah strike that killed 50 Palestinians and injured at least 249 others, saying it was a "tragic incident that shouldn't have happened."

"The outcome is not the outcome we had in mind when this operation started. That's why we're investigating it. It's a tragic event and it's not the way we operate. We are fighting with Hamas terrorists. We are trying to kill them specifically in a very precise way, intelligence based. And that's why we look at this as a tragic incident that shouldn't have happened," Shoshani said.

Over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike a "tragic mishap" on Monday.

"The mishap was the fire that carried out after the targeted attack, and we are looking into why this fire caught on," Shoshani said. "The attack, per se, was according to procedure, with surveillance before the attack, a very precise attack based on intelligence."

-ABC News' Britt Clennett

May 28, 3:27 PM
Barely any medical facilities functioning, Palestinian Ministry of Health says

There are barely any functioning medical facilities in Rafah as the Israel Defense Forces continue its operations, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Tuesday.

“Both the Indonesian field hospital and the Tal Al-Sultan Clinic in Rafah Governorate have ceased service, leaving only the Tal Al-Sultan Maternity Hospital struggling to survive and continue providing service to patients in Rafah,” according to the ministry.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

May 28, 3:18 PM
Israel makes new cease-fire proposal, now awaiting Hamas response

Israel put forward a new cease-fire proposal and hostage release deal on Monday, which has now been passed on to Hamas, an Egyptian security source told ABC News.

Mediators are awaiting a response from Hamas within 24 hours, the source said.

This is the first time Israel has taken the first move to submit a draft proposal since the war began, according to the source. Previous proposals have been initiated by Egyptian and Qatari mediators.

The source said talks could resume soon, without providing an exact timeline.

-ABC News’ Ayat Al-Tawy

May 28, 3:12 PM
‘Tragic doesn’t even begin to describe it,’ Harris says of IDF strike in Rafah

Vice President Kamala Harris weighed in on the IDF strike in Rafah that killed 50 civilians and injured 249 more, saying, “The word ‘tragic’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

She did not comment when asked if this crosses a red line for the administration. President Joe Biden has yet to weigh in.

May 28, 10:31 AM
'No justice in the world': Palestinian man's wife killed in Rafah strike

Days after a deadly strike on Rafah killed 50 Palestinians and injured at least 249 others, a father of five who lost his wife told ABC News his family fled from Beit Lahia to Deir al-Balah — in the south of Gaza — before heading to Rafah for safety.

"One of my disabled sons had his leg amputated and my wife was killed. What injustice is this?" Murid Saadi Agha told ABC News. "There is no justice in the world. Israel is above all the law."

"I hold America and Israel responsible. We are innocent," he said.

Three of Agha's children have already lost limbs in the war.

"After sunset, my wife and I were sitting here outside the shelter with our neighbors, and my disabled son was feeding his other disabled brother, who is older than him. Even the Indomie that he was eating was still here," he said, describing the aftermath of the deadly Rafah strike.

"There was a very intense explosion. My wife declared once that the shrapnel entered her chest and killed her. I went to my sons and found that one of them had an amputated foot, as the shrapnel entered from the top and from the side. There were many martyrs here. It was a massacre," he said.

May 28, 9:21 AM
Israel continues Rafah strikes as Palestinian death toll surpasses 36,000

Strikes on Rafah have continued, barely 48 hours since an Israeli airstrike near a camp of displaced people killed 50 and injured 249 others. The continued offensive comes as at least 36,050 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7 and 81,026 others have been injured.

The Israel Defense Forces said their ongoing Rafah operation is “precise.”

The Israeli military’s deadly airstrike in Rafah on Sunday night hit an area about 650 feet away from the boundary of an IDF-designated “humanitarian area,” according to an ABC News analysis of geolocated images and the IDF’s statements and maps.

The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later Tuesday to discuss Sunday’s strike on Rafah.

At least one million people have fled Rafah in the past three weeks, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

May 27, 4:30 PM
Kuwait Specialized hospital in Rafah out of service

The Kuwait Specialized Hospital in Rafah, one of its largest, announced that the hospital had been out of service due to the expansion of the Israeli military operation on the city and the repeated and deliberate targeting of the hospital's vicinity, hospital's director Suhaib Al-Hams said Sunday.

The Israeli occupation repeatedly targeted the hospital, the most recent of which was targeting the hospital gate, which led to the death of two of the staff working there, as well as the injury of five members of the medical staff in a previous targeting, Al-Hams said in a press statement received by Sanad News Agency.

"We announce that the Kuwait Specialized Hospital has been out of service and the working medical teams have been transferred to the field hospital that is being prepared in the Al-Mawasi area," Al-Hams said.

May 27, 3:39 PM
Israel strike hits fuel tank, causing large fire: US official

The U.S. received information from the Israelis overnight that they believe shrapnel or something else from the strike ignited a fuel tank 100 meters away, which engulfed a tent, creating a massive fire, according to a U.S. official.

The U.S. does not have information to confirm or dispute that information. The U.S. is in the process of understanding what has happened, waiting for Israel to conduct its own investigation and determining what action to take next, according to the official.

The U.S. maintains that while they’ve warned about a major ground offensive in Rafah, that’s not what’s happening, according to the official.

May 27, 3:37 PM
Hamas leader says Rafah strike shows Israel is defying international law

Commenting on the Rafah strike that killed 50 people, Hamas released a statement saying Israel’s attack on Rafah is like "the announcement of Netanyahu’s government’s defiance of international justice decisions," referring to the International Court of Justice’s decision last week ordering Israel to stop its operation in Rafah.

"The massacre committed in the areas where its considered safe area," Hamas leader Osama Hamdan said. "The timing of these murders during the last two days is like the announcement of Netanyahu's government's defiance of international justice decisions."

May 27, 6:17 PM
Netanyahu calls strike on Rafah a 'tragic mishap'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike on Rafah which killed at least 50 Palestinians Sunday, a “tragic mishap,” in a speech to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Monday.

"We are fighting with force in the north of the Gaza Strip, in its center, its south and in Rafah. In Rafah we have already evacuated about a million uninvolved residents and despite our best efforts not to harm the un-involved, unfortunately a tragic mishap happened last night. We are investigating the case and will draw the conclusions because this is our policy," Netanyahu said.

May 27, 2:45 PM
Death toll from Israeli strike rises to 50

At least 50 people have been confirmed dead in Israel's strike on Rafah, with a number of victims still under the rubble, the Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement Monday. Ambulance and civil defense crews cannot reach them the victims, the statement noted.

Since Oct. 7, 36,050 people have been killed in Gaza and 81,026 others have been injured.

"Never before in history has such a large number of mass killing tools been amassed and employed together in front of the world as is happening now in Gaza, where the population is deprived of water, food, medicine, electricity, and fuel, crushing the infrastructure, destroying all institutions, disrupting sanitation, spreading epidemics, crushing the health system, implementing the siege, closing crossings, and preventing the entry of medical supplies and delegations," the Gaza Health Ministry said.

May 27, 2:15 PM
Egyptian border guard killed in shooting at Rafah border

An Egyptian border guard was killed in a shooting in the Rafah border area with Gaza, Egypt’s military spokesman said in a statement on Monday.

"The Egyptian armed forces, through the competent authorities, are investigating a shooting incident in the Rafah border area which led to the martyrdom of one of the security personnel on duty," the statement said.

The Israeli military had earlier reported an exchange of fire on the Egyptian border and said it was discussing the incident with Egypt.

“A few hours ago (Monday), a shooting incident occurred on the Egyptian border. The incident is under review and discussions are being held with the Egyptians,” the IDF said.

Initial investigations into an incident that killed an Egyptian border guard indicate the incident occurred while there was an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and "the Palestinian resistance," an Egyptian security source told Egypt’s state-affiliated Al Qahera News TV on Monday.

In October 2023, weeks after the war started, Israel said one of its military tanks mistakenly fired at an Egyptian position near the border with Gaza. Egypt said at the time that several army personnel were slightly injured.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel have escalated after Israeli forces earlier this month seized control of the Rafah border crossing, a key entry point for humanitarian aid. Egypt said it would not reopen its side of the crossing unless it is operated by Palestinians and accused Israel of preventing aid deliveries.

May 27, 1:52 PM
UNRWA commissioner general calls scenes of Rafah after strike 'hell on earth'

The images that have emerged after the Israeli strike on Rafah are a "testament to how Rafah has turned into hell on earth," Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said in a post on X.

"Children and women living in tented plastic makeshift shelters are among the killed. Many were injured. Others were reportedly burnt to death. The images from last night are testament to how Rafah has turned into hell on earth," Lazzarini said went on.

Some UNRWA staff are unaccounted for and it’s very hard to establish contact with UNRWA teams in Rafah, Lazzarini said, adding that the UNRWA is doing its best to bring aid to people in need in Gaza.

"UNRWA is doing everything possible not to interrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance. But with every day passing, providing assistance & protection becomes nearly impossible," he said.

-ABC News' Ellie Kaufman

May 27, 1:02 PM
White House says images out of Rafah are 'heartbreaking' but maintains Israel has 'a right' to go after Hamas

The "devastating images" coming out of Rafah are "heartbreaking," a White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement Monday, adding that even though Israel "has a right to go after" Hamas, the country also has to protect civilians.

"Israel has a right to go after Hamas, and we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians," the spokesperson said. "But as we’ve been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians."

The spokesperson also said that the U.S. is engaging with the Israeli authorities to figure out "what happened" in addition to the IDF investigation.

-ABC News' Michelle Stoddart

May 27, 12:18 PM
'Outraged': Macron calls for immediate cease-fire after Rafah attack

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Israel's attack on Rafah that left at least 45 people dead, saying he was “outraged" and called for “respect for international law” and an "immediate cease-fire."

“Outraged by the Israeli strikes which caused numerous victims among the displaced in Rafah. These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” Macron said in a post on X.

The Israel Defense Forces claimed it took several measures to protect civilians. The strike is now under investigation.

"The General Staff's Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism is investigating the circumstances of the deaths of civilians in the area of the strike. The IDF regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians during combat," the IDF said in a statement.

The White House has not commented on the attack yet, and the Israeli prime minister’s office has not released a statement.

-ABC News' Ellie Kaufman

May 27, 7:58 AM
Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Sunday Rafah strike, Gaza ministry says

Forty-five people were killed and 249 were injured in an IDF strike on Rafah on Sunday, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Monday.

Action Aid UK had on Sunday placed the death toll higher, saying at least 50 people were killed.

IDF officials said the strike had targeted "significant Hamas terrorists" who were operating in a Hamas compound.

"The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed," IDF officials said on social media. "The incident is under review."

-ABC News' Joe Simonetti and Kevin Shalvey

May 26, 6:44 PM
IDF claims 2 top Hamas officials killed in Rafah airstrike

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed two top Hamas officials were killed in the deadly airstrike in western Rafah Sunday night.

The IDF said Hamas' Chief of Staff in the Judea and Samaria wing, Yassin Rabia, and an additional senior Hamas official, Khaled Nagar, were both killed.

"Hamas' Judea and Samaria wing is responsible for the planning, funding, and carrying out of terror attacks throughout Judea and Samaria and within Israel," the IDF said in a statement Sunday.

The IDF claimed Rabia was responsible for "numerous murderous terror attacks, including in 2001 and 2002, in which IDF soldiers were killed."

The IDF also claimed Nagar "directed shooting attacks and other terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, and transferred funds intended for Hamas' terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip."

"Previously, Khaled Nagar carried out several deadly terror attacks between 2001-2003 which led to the deaths of several Israeli civilians and the injury and death of several Israeli soldiers," the IDF claimed.

The airstrike in Rafah on Sunday also resulted in the deaths of at least 50 individuals, including civilians, according to Action Aid UK.

May 26, 6:18 PM
Death toll in Rafah airstrike rises to 50: Action Aid UK

The death toll in the IDF airstrike that hit western Rafah Sunday night has risen to at least 50 individuals, including civilians, according to Action Aid UK.

The organization said Israeli fighter jets launched eight missiles at makeshift shelters housing internally displaced persons next to UNRWA warehouses stocking vital aid.

"We are outraged and heartbroken by the recent attacks in West Rafah," Action Aid UK said in a statement Sunday.

"These shelters were supposed to be safe havens for innocent civilians, yet they became targets of brutal violence," the organization continued. "Children, women, and men are being burned alive under their tents and shelters."

Action Aid UK expects the number of casualties to rise.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule

May 26, 5:49 PM
At least 35 killed, including civilians, in airstrike on Rafah: Gaza Ministry of Health

A deadly airstrike has killed at least 35 people inside western Rafah, near the UNRWA logistics base in Tal Al-Sultan, according to officials at the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

Numerous individuals remain stuck in a fire that resulted from the airstrike and in the tents destroyed by the bombardment.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the airstrike to ABC News in a statement on Sunday and acknowledged that civilians were harmed as a result of the strike.

"A short while ago, an IDF aircraft struck a Hamas compound in Rafah in which significant Hamas terrorists were operating. The strike was carried out against legitimate targets under international law, using through the use of precise munitions and on the basis of precise intelligence that indicated Hamas' use of the area," the IDF said.

"The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed," the IDF continued, adding, "The incident is under review."

-ABC News' William Gretsky

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Pope apologizes for reported use of offensive term for gay men

Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis is apologizing after reports that he used an offensive term for gay men in a recent closed-door meeting.

"Pope Francis is aware of articles that recently came out about a conversation, behind closed doors, with the bishops of the [Italian Bishops Conference],” the Vatican press office said in a statement from Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni.

Italian media sourced the use of the term to unidentified bishops who reportedly overheard Pope Francis' speech at a meeting of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. They claim in reports that Pope Francis used the term while reinforcing longstanding Church instruction against allowing homosexual men to enter the seminary to train for the priesthood.

"The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term, reported by others," the Vatican's statement continued. "As he has had the opportunity to state on several occasions, 'In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! No one is useless, no one is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone.'"

In 2023, Pope Francis called on a crowd of hundreds of thousands on World Youth Day to yell back at him that the Catholic Church is for "todos, todos, todos" -- everyone, everyone, everyone. He was later asked how he could reconcile his "todos" message with the fact that LGBTQ+ people are excluded from the sacraments. The pope answered the Church has laws, but is still a place for everyone.

The pope's reported use of the slur surprised many. Throughout his papacy, Francis has introduced an openness concerning the LGBTQ community, though he has upheld the church's position on doctrinal matters.

When a journalist asked Francis a question about gay priests while returning from the first foreign trip of his papacy in 2013, the pope stunned people with his response: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Pope Francis also has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality, and has formally approved allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples – a significant change in Vatican guidance.

Pope Francis, whose native language is Spanish and not Italian, has at times during his papacy made up words, or used slang or inappropriate phraseology during his remarks, often while speaking off-the-cuff.

ABC News' Melissa Gaffney and Ines de la Cuetara contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rough seas cause portion of US temporary aid pier off Gaza to detach

Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- The flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza over the U.S. Army's temporary Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) system has been paused after rough seas caused parts of the pier to detach, a U.S. official told ABC News Tuesday.

At a press briefing on Tuesday an Israeli Defense Forces official also confirmed that JLOTS is not functioning after parts broke off during high seas off the coast of Gaza.

That official said that it will likely be a few more days before the pier can resume operations.

The sea conditions in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Gaza have already caused issues for the U.S. Army's temporary pier system, intended to create a maritime corridor for international aid to be delivered from Cyprus into Gaza.

U.S. officials have said that the pier's operations were always intended to begin slowly and then ramp up as more aid arrived from Cyprus. So far, the U.S. has said that 820 metric tons of aid had made it to shore.

Over the weekend, U.S. Central Command confirmed that four small U.S. Army vessels involved in the transport of cargo from sea to the 1,500 foot causeway attached to a beach in Gaza had broken free as a result of rough seas.

"The vessels broke free from their moorings and two vessels are now anchored on the beach near the pier," said a statement issued Saturday. "The third and fourth vessels are beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon. Efforts to recover the vessels are under way with assistance from the Israeli Navy."

At the time, CENTCOM said that the Israeli Defense Forces would support the recovery efforts near the pier and that the pier remained fully functional.

The rough seas off of Gaza had earlier led to delay in the initial deployment of the JLOTS systems, forcing the U.S. military to eventually set it up in calmer seas off of Ashdod, Israel, before moving it down to waters off of Gaza.

It is unclear whether this latest setback will lead to consideration of other alternative ways of transporting the aid from Cyprus into Gaza.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


American sentenced to time served, fined $9,000 for bringing ammo to Turks and Caicos

Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force

(NEW YORK) -- A Virginia man was sentenced to time served and fined $9,000 for bringing ammunition to Turks and Caicos, avoiding a potential 12-year sentence under the islands' strict gun laws.

Tyler Wenrich, from Richmond, traveled to Grand Turk on a cruise ship for a bachelor party in late April when ammunition was found in his possession while going through a security checkpoint, police said.

The 911 operator and emergency medical technician has remained on the island since being arrested and pleaded guilty on May 21 to two counts of possession of ammunition, for two 9 mm rounds.

"I have a lot of fear and anxiety as to what's going to happen and I'm hoping that the judge finds some compassion and leniency in the situation that I'm in," Wenrich told ABC News earlier this month.

Wenrich had gone shooting at a gun range with friends and said he forgot he was carrying the ammunition.

ABC News' Matt Rivers and Wilkie Arthur contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Over 130 killed in two weeks as fighting intensifies in major Sudanese city, aid group says

Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Gadaref on May 12, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)

(LONDON) -- At least 134 people have been killed and another 979 have been wounded since May 10 as fighting intensifies between Sudan's military and a powerful Sudanese paramilitary force in a major city of the country's northwestern Darfur region, according to an international aid group.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said Sunday that the casualties were all recorded at a single hospital in el-Fasher, the provincial capital of Sudan’s North Darfur state. South Hospital is currently the last functioning medical center in North Darfur and only has around 10 days of supplies left, according to the aid group.

MSF said one of its staff members was among those killed when shelling hit his home near el-Fasher's main marketplace.

Civilians with a range of injuries are arriving in droves at South Hospital in el-Fasher, according to MSF.

"Some have gunshot wounds, some have been wounded by bomb fragments, and others have been wounded by shelling," Claire Nicolet, MSF's head of emergency programs, said in a statement last Tuesday.

An estimated 505,000 people have been displaced from their homes in North Darfur since clashes escalated earlier this month between the official Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), according to the United Nations.

"Reports from el-Fasher in Sudan are terrible: deadly attacks on civilians, horrifying accounts of ethnic targeting, people too fearful of checkpoints to even flee," U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement last Thursday. "Deliberate violence on civilians must stop."

A report released last week by the Yale School of Public Health's Humanitarian Research Lab found "significant new conflict–related damage to the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern neighborhoods" from May 14 to May 20, as RSF forces gained control in "several directions."

The SAF and the RSF, as well as their allied militias, have been locked in a bitter battle for control of the resource-rich North African nation since April 2023. The fighting first erupted on the streets of Sudan's densely populated capital, Khartoum, before spreading elsewhere across the country.

El-Fasher is the last major city in Darfur still in the hands of the SAF. The besieged city is a key humanitarian hub and "safe haven" to an estimated 800,000 people, according to the U.N.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last Thursday that hostilities have entered an "alarming new chapter" with the humanitarian situation "rapidly deteriorating."

During last Friday's U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that "history is repeating itself" and "there is no time to waste," citing the RSF's tightened siege on el-Fasher and the SAF's continued obstruction of aid.

"The people of Sudan have endured immense suffering at the hands of the warring parties who continue to plunge the country into a spiral of death and despair," Thomas-Greenfield said. "Five million Sudanese are on the brink of famine, and tens of millions more are in desperate need of food."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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