China has joined growing international calls for Israel to halt military operations in Gaza following a raid in which two hostages were rescued and scores of Palestinians killed.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing added in a brief statement on Tuesday that Israel should “do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah”.

Israel has signalled its ground offensive may soon target Rafah, the town where the hostages were freed by the raid.

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Palestinians inspect the damage to residential buildings in Rafah where two hostages were reportedly held before being rescued by Israeli security forces (Fatima Shbair/AP)

China has consistently opposed the Israeli offensive, calling from the start for a ceasefire and talks to find a permanent solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the bodies of 133 people killed in Israeli strikes have been taken to hospitals in the war-ravaged territory over the past day.

Hospitals also received 162 wounded patients, the ministry said.

Also on Tuesday, the death toll from the Israeli hostage rescue operation in the town of Rafah rose to 74, according to Dr Marawan al-Hams, director of the local Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital.

Israeli forces carrying out the operation were backed by heavy air strikes on the town, to where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have fled.

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The fresh fatalities took the death toll in Gaza to 28,473 since the war began on October 7, according to the health ministry (Fatima Shbair/AP)

The fresh fatalities took the death toll in Gaza to 28,473 since the war began on October 7, according to the ministry.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says more than 70% of the dead are women and children.

Israel says its forces have killed 10,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the death toll, saying it embeds in civilians areas, putting non-combatants at risk.

More than 68,000 people have been wounded in the war, of whom 11,000 who need urgent evacuation from Gaza for treatment, the ministry said.

The ministry said many of the dead remain under the rubble of destroyed buildings and on roadsides, with first responders unable to reach many areas and collect the bodies.