Israel Vows to 'Intensify' Operations in Gaza’s Rafah

Palestinians who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip arrive with their belongings to Khan Yunis on May 15, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinians who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip arrive with their belongings to Khan Yunis on May 15, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Israel Vows to 'Intensify' Operations in Gaza’s Rafah

Palestinians who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip arrive with their belongings to Khan Yunis on May 15, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinians who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip arrive with their belongings to Khan Yunis on May 15, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Israel vowed Thursday to "intensify" its ground offensive in Rafah, in defiance of global warnings over the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians sheltering in Gaza's far-southern city.

According to AFP, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said "additional forces will enter" the Rafah area and "this activity will intensify".

"Hundreds of targets have already been struck and our forces are maneuvering in the area," Gallant said following a troop visit on Wednesday.

Israel's top ally the United States has joined other major powers in appealing for it to hold back from a full ground offensive against Hamas in Rafah, the last city in Gaza so far spared heavy urban fighting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has countered that a ground assault on Rafah is vital to the army's mission of destroying Hamas to prevent any repetition of the October 7 attack that triggered the war.



Israeli Tanks at Edge of Rafah's Mawasi Refuge Zone

A man walks across  fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024.  (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A man walks across fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
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Israeli Tanks at Edge of Rafah's Mawasi Refuge Zone

A man walks across  fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024.  (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
A man walks across fallen tents the day after a strike on the al-Mawasi area, northwest of the Palestinian city of Rafah on June 22, 2024. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of the Mawasi displaced persons' camp in the northwest of the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Sunday in fierce fighting with Hamas-led fighters, residents said.
Images of two Israeli tanks stationed on a hilltop overlooking the coastal area went viral on social media, but Reuters could not independently verify them.

"The fighting with the resistance has been intense. The occupation forces are overlooking the Mawasi area now, which forced families there to head for Khan Younis," said one resident, who asked not to be named, on a chat app.

More than eight months into Israel's war in the Hamas-administered Palestinian enclave, its advance is focused on the two areas its forces have yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern tip and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center.

Residents said Israeli tanks had pushed deeper into western and northern Rafah in recent days, blowing up dozens of houses.

The Israeli military said it was continuing "intelligence-based, targeted operations" in the Rafah area and had located weapons stores and tunnel shafts, and killed Palestinian gunmen.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement said their fighters had attacked Israeli forces in Rafah with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs and pre-planted explosive devices.

Elsewhere, an Israeli airstrike killed eight Palestinians in Sabra, a suburb of Gaza City in the north, and another strike killed two people in Nuseirat in central Gaza.

The military said it had struck dozens of targets throughout the Strip.

On Saturday, Palestinian health officials said at least 40 Palestinians had been killed in separate Israeli strikes in some northern Gaza districts, where the Israeli army said it had attacked Hamas's military infrastructure. Hamas said the targets were the civilian population.

In Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, health officials at Kamal Adwan Hospital said a baby had died of malnutrition, taking the number of children dead of malnutrition or dehydration since Oct. 7 to at least 30, a number that health officials say reflects under-recording.