Israel pushes deeper into Rafah, forcing 300,000 civilians to flee

RAFAH: Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza’s southern city of Rafah on Sunday and battled Hamas in parts of the devastated north that the military said it had cleared months ago but where militants have regrouped. Rafah is considered the last refuge in Gaza for over a million civilians as well as Hamas’ last stronghold. Some 300,000 people have fled the city following evacuation orders from Israel, which says it must invade to dismantle Hamas.
Neighbouring Egypt issued its strongest objection yet to the Rafah offensive, saying it intends to formally join South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice alleging Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, which Israel rejects.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken reiterated opposition to a major military assault on Rafah, and told CBS that Israel would “be left holding the bag on an enduring insurgency” without an exit from Gaza and postwar governance plan. Gaza has been left without a functioning govt, leading to a breakdown in public order and allowing Hamas’ armed wing to reconstitute itself.
Palestinians reported heavy Israeli bombardment overnight in the urban Jabaliya refugee camp and other areas in northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli forces for months. UN officials say there is a “full-blown famine” there. Residents said Israeli warplanes and artillery struck across the camp and the Zeitoun area east of Gaza City, where troops have battled militants for over a week. They have called on tens of thousands of people to relocate to nearby areas. First responders with the Palestinian Civil Defence said they were unable to respond to multiple calls for help from both areas, as well as from Rafah.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the top Israeli military spokesman, said forces were also operating in the northern towns of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun, which were heavily bombed in the war’s opening days.


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