Israeli forces ask Gazans to evacuate parts of Rafah ahead of planned assault

The Palestinian militant group claimed responsibility for the deadly rocket strike at Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza, that claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces ask Gazans to evacuate parts of Rafah ahead of planned assault
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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday issued evacuation orders to the residents of eastern Rafah, a day after it struck the city in southern Gaza in retaliation for a Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom border crossing. The development comes ahead of a planned Israeli offensive in Rafah, the last stronghold of the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

The military asked residents of neighbourhoods in eastern Rafah to move to an expanded humanitarian zone in the al-Mawasi and Khan Younis areas.

Following the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected proposals for a truce in Gaza and said Hamas's demands for the withdrawal of troops from the enclave and an end to the war were "unacceptable".

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Israeli forces ask Gazans to evacuate parts of Rafah ahead of planned assault

In the Rafah attack on Sunday, health authorities in Gaza said that at least 19 people were killed, reports Reuters news agency.

According to the Israeli military, 10 projectiles were launched from Rafah towards the border crossing, which has now been closed for aid trucks to enter Gaza. There was no clarification on the reopening of the crossing.

Despite multiple warnings from US President Joe Biden and other Western officials, Netanyahu has pledged to launch a military offensive in Rafah, the last stronghold of Hamas in Gaza.

The Jewish nation has given Hamas a week's time to agree to a Gaza ceasefire deal, or it would go ahead with the Rafah offensive.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a tweet that "calls to temporarily move to the humanitarian area will be conveyed through flyers, SMS messages, phone calls and media broadcasts in Arabic".

Earlier, the Israeli military said it struck the launcher from which the Hamas projectiles were fired at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Sunday, as well as a nearby "military structure", reports Reuters.

While confirming the attack, Hamas's military wing Al-Qassam Brigades said that it fired rockets at an Israeli army base by the crossing. A Hamas source said that the border crossing was not the target.

Gaza health officials said that the Israeli strikes hit two houses in Rafah, killing 19 people. In one house, four children, including a baby, and two adults were killed, who were all from the same family.

Also on Sunday, the latest round of negotiations in Cairo for a ceasefire in Gaza ended, The Associated Press reported. Israel didn’t send a delegation to participate in the talks. The Hamas delegation will return to Cairo for fresh negotiations on Tuesday.

Israeli media has reported that chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency William Burns will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

During an address to mark Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day, PM Netanyahu denounced international criticism of the war in Gaza and said, "No amount of pressure, no decision by any international forum, will stop Israel from defending itself... If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone".

On rejecting the Gaza truce proposals, he said, "We are not prepared to accept a situation in which the Hamas brigades come out of their bunkers, take control of Gaza again, rebuild their military infrastructure, and return to threatening the citizens of Israel in the settlements surrounding the southern mountains, in all parts of the country."

Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned of “a powerful operation in the very near future in Rafah and other places across all of Gaza". He claimed Hamas wasn’t serious about a ceasefire agreement.

Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October 2023, at least 34,683 people have been killed in Gaza and over 77,900 others injured. The fatalities in Israel stood at about 1,200. Of the 252 hostages kidnapped by Hamas, 128 are missing and 34 presumed dead.

Source: India Today

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