UK warship HMS Diamond shoots down Houthi missile - as Palestinian officials say five killed in Israeli strikes on Rafah

A UK warship has shot down a Houthi missile targeting a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden, the Royal Navy has said.

HMS Diamond used its Sea Viper missile system to thwart Wednesday's attack.

The ship has been on patrol since March, having previously been deployed around the turn of the year when it shot down nine drones.

The Iran-linked Houthis, based in Yemen, have targeted ships in the Red Sea region they claim are linked to Israel or helping its war effort.

However, the number of attacks have declined recently.

It comes as at least five people were killed early on Thursday as Israeli airstrikes hit houses in the Gazan city of Rafah, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Two children, Sham Najjar, six, and Jamal Nabahan, eight, and a local journalist were reported to be among the victims.

Four people were also said to have been killed by Israeli tank shelling in central Gaza.

More than a million people have sought refuge in the southern city and fears are high over the scale of the casualties when Israel launches its planned ground offensive.

Israel has said it will evacuate civilians before the Rafah offensive starts, as it continues its goal of wiping out Hamas following the 7 October terror attack.

Alongside the threat of bombs and missiles, Gaza's dire food situation persists.

The UN's World Food Programme said on Thursday that northern areas were approaching famine and much more aid, delivered with greater predictability in terms of access, is needed.

However, the dangers of delivering such aid were starkly displayed by the accidental killing of staff working for World Central Kitchen earlier in April.

The incident led to an international outcry and prompted some agencies and NGOs to pause operations - and the dangers remain.

A UN team visiting a pier being built for aid deliveries in Gaza City had to shelter in a bunker for "some time" on Wednesday when the area came under fire, said a spokesperson.

No injuries were reported.

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Meanwhile, a top Hamas official has said it would agree a truce of at least five years, lay down its weapons, and become a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established on pre-1967 borders.

Khalil al Hayya made the comments in an interview with Associated Press and it appeared a significant concession for a group whose aim is to destroy Israel.

It is very unlikely the proposal would be palatable to Israel, whose leadership is strongly opposed to a Palestinian state on land it captured in the 1967 war.

Meanwhile, talks involving Egyptian, Israeli and US officials over the possibility of a temporary truce in exchange for hostages were also held on Wednesday, according to Egyptian security sources.

Another meeting was scheduled for Friday in Cairo, the sources told Reuters.

More than 34,000 people have now been killed in the near seven-month war, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

October's attack also claimed the lives of about 1,200 people in Israel, while more than 200 were kidnapped.

Some were released in a swap last year but more than a 100 are still unaccounted for - with Israel's government under huge pressure to bring them home.