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Home / News / Israeli forces move deeper into Rafah after more fighting

Israeli forces move deeper into Rafah after more fighting

Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of a crowded district in the heart of Rafah during one of the most intense nights of bombardment of the southern Gaza city since Israel launched its offensive there this month.

Israel’s assault on Rafah on Gaza’s southern edge has set hundreds of thousands of people fleeing what had been a refuge for half of the enclave’s 2.3 million people.

It has also cut off the main access routes for aid into Gaza, drawing international fears of mass casualties and famine.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Egypt to do everything it can to make sure humanitarian aid is flowing into Gaza.

Mr Blinken told a hearing in the House of Representatives that fighting near the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, which Israel seized earlier this month, had made the environment for providing assistance challenging.

“So we need to find a way to make sure that the assistance that would go through Rafah can get through safely, but we do strongly urge our Egyptian partners to do everything that they can on their end of things to make sure that assistance is flowing,” Mr Blinken said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Israel says it has no choice but to attack the city to root out the last battalions of Hamas fighters it believes are sheltering there. Its troops have been slowly moving into the eastern outskirts of Rafah since the start of the month.

Residents and militants said tanks had taken up new positions today further west than before along the southern border fence with Egypt, and were now stationed on the edge of the Yibna neighbourhood at the centre of Rafah.

Hamas’s armed wing said it had struck two armoured troop carriers at a gate along the border fence with anti-tank rockets.

Palestinian residents said Israeli drones were firing into the Yibna suburb and had opened fire overnight on fishing boats on the beach of Rafah causing some to catch fire.

“There has been no stopping of Israeli fire all night, from drones, helicopters, warplanes, and tanks,” said one resident of Rafah.

“Tanks made a limited push southeast, still limited but they have advanced under heavy fire all night,” he told Reuters via a chat app.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency in Gaza, estimated as of Monday that more than 800,000 people had fled Rafah since Israel began targeting the city in early May, despite international pleas for restraint.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October in which fighters killed 1,200 people and captured more than 250 hostages.

Since then, Israel’s assault has killed more than 35,000 people, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble, according to Gaza health authorities.

Ireland recognises state of Palestine

Taoiseach Simon Harris this morning announced that Ireland is formally recognising the state of Palestine, along with Spain and Norway.

Mr Harris said he was confident other countries would now follow the move taken by Ireland, Spain and Norway in the coming weeks. “This is an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine,” he added.

The move has infuriated Israel, with the country’s foreign ministry announcing that the Irish, Spanish and Norwegian ambassadors to Israel are to be reprimanded.


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