Israel's hostage rescue raids spark concern for Bay Area man with Gaza relatives

SAN FRANCISCO - Israel faced pushback from some Western and Arab countries Monday after declaring it might continue with raids on the southern city of Rafah where troops rescued two hostages held by Hamas.

"It was very emotional to see them, to hug them, to feel them," said Gefen Sigal Ilan, a niece of one freed Israeli hostage.

"We have a moral obligation to bring all our hostages home," said Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman.

Israeli forces say the hostages were found in a building in Rafah, where an estimated 1.4 million Palestinian refugees are sheltering. Palestinian health officials say as many as 67 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed in the raid.

The mounting deaths of thousands of Palestinian children in Israeli attacks, has raised international concern. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 28,000 people have been killed, with 43% or more than 12,300 being children and youth.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the Gaza war and a proposed ceasefire resolution.

Also on Monday, the U.K. government expressed concern over any potential raid of Rafah.

The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on the U.S. and other countries to stop providing weapons to Israel.

A Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to cease exports of the F-35 parts to Israel, saying delivery of parts would make the country complicit in any war crimes by Israel.

Israel's threat of more attacks in Rafah is painful for Palestinian Americans in the Bay Area such as Shaif Zakout of San Francisco, who has had dozens of family members in Gaza killed since the war broke out in October.

"Most of the people killed in my family were children," Zakout said, "The youngest being two years old. The oldest being 16."

Zakout says he has lost touch with his grandparents and other relatives in Gaza, and worries about their safety.

"Even though many Palestinians were told to go to the south, were told to go to Rafah, they are now being fired upon and we've said, there is no place safe in Gaza for Palestinians," Zakout said. "Collective punishment shouldn't be waged on Palestinian people because of political actors, and I think that speaks to the dehumanization of Arabs and Palestinians at this moment."

On Monday, President Biden held talks at the White House with Jordan's King Abdullah. Both said they are working on a ceasefire that could call for a six-week pause in fighting.

"Every innocent life in Gaza is a tragedy just as every innocent life lost in Israel is a tragedy as well," President Biden said.

Mahmood Monshipouri is Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University. He says Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries in the Middle East that have peace treaties with Israel.

"Israel and Jordan, in 1994, signed a peace treaty and that has really contributed to stability in the region," Monshipouri said, noting that Jordan's King Abdullah is trying to balance preserving the treaty with maintaining support at home, "Three million out of the eleven million population in Jordan are Palestinians."

Monshipouri says Egypt has indicated its historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel also could be in jeopardy if Israel proceeds to attack Rafah.

"The implications of that would be tremendous and will cause a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented scale," Monshipouri said.