Israel strikes Gaza as more Rafah evacuations ordered

The conflict in Gaza escalated after the October 7 attack by Hamas, where about 2,500 terrorists breached the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, leading to casualties and the seizure of hostages…reports Asian Lite News

The Israel Defense Forces said that its troops have been operating in eastern Rafah and have “intensified” operational activity in the Zeitoun area in central Gaza, CNN reported.

This comes after the Israeli military ordered the immediate evacuation of several more neighbourhoods in eastern Rafah as the Israeli military steps up its operations in the southern Gazan city.

According to CNN, the military has also ordered residents and the displaced people in several neighbourhoods in northern Gaza to leave the area immediately and head toward “shelters” west of Gaza City.

The IDF says dozens of gunmen have been killed and many weapons have been captured amid the ongoing raid in Zeitoun, Times of Israel reported

In Rafah, troops killed several more Hamas gunmen in the eastern part of the city, as well as located several tunnels, the IDF says.

According to the IDF, the aircraft struck “tens of terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including military structures, launch posts, observation posts, terrorist operatives and additional terrorist infrastructure.”

As per the update from the local hospitals, at least 47 people were killed, including children, in Israeli airstrikes in northern and central Gaza Friday evening and overnight, as per CNN.

IDF troops have also been operating “against Hamas terrorists and infrastructure in specific areas of eastern Rafah,” the IDF said. “Over the past day, IDF troops eliminated numerous terrorists in close-quarters combat and dismantled terrorist infrastructure in the area.”

It added that IDF troops had also uncovered numerous underground tunnel shafts in the area adjacent to the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Following this, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 28 people were killed as a result of Israeli military operations in the most recent 24 hours. The Ministry also stated that 69 people had been injured in the same period.

Since the launch of the Israeli counter-offensive, 34,971 people have been killed in Gaza and 78,641 injured, the Ministry stated.

The conflict in Gaza escalated after the October 7 attack by Hamas, where about 2,500 terrorists breached the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, leading to casualties and the seizure of hostages.

Israel has since, characterised its Gaza offensive as targeting Hamas’ infrastructure with the goal of eliminating the entire terror group while making efforts to minimize civilian casualties.

Biden’s stern message to Hamas

US President Joe Biden said that a ceasefire in the war in Gaza is possible “tomorrow” if Hamas released the hostages in its captivity.

He was speaking at a fundraiser event in Seattle on Saturday (local time).

“Before I begin, let me answer a question related to the hostages…You know, there would be a ceasefire tomorrow if…Hamas released the hostages, women, the elderly, and the wounded,” Biden said.

“Israel said it’s up to Hamas if they wanted to do it, we could end it tomorrow. And the ceasefire would begin tomorrow,” he added.

This comes after Israeli and Hamas negotiating teams left Cairo, Egypt without a deal earlier this week, as reported by CNN.

Earlier on Friday, families of the five Americans believed to be held hostage in Gaza met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk.

According to a readout of the meeting from representatives for the families, they “expressed their immense frustration with yet another pause, especially after recent hostage videos showed their loved ones disabled, thin, pale, and under apparent duress” to the Biden administration officials.

Hamas said Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire plan submitted by mediators at negotiations in Cairo sent hostage release talks back to “square one.” It also accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “hindering” the ceasefire talks to use negotiations as a cover to attack the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Notably, Israel has repeatedly refused to agree to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas gets defeated, even if all hostages are released, CNN reported.

“The Hamas proposal was very far from Israel’s core demands,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

This remark comes days after Biden paused the delivery of over 3000 heavy bombs to Israel and vowed to hold more offensive weapons if Israeli forces launch a major operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering, The Hill reported.

This came amid sweeping college protests and frustration with the war from some Democrats and his left flank.

Meanwhile, as Israel started its operation in Rafah despite concerns, it has ordered several more neighbourhoods in eastern Rafah to immediately evacuate as the military steps up its operations in the southern Gazan city.

Rafah, the southern Gazan city is believed to be the last holdout for Hamas but it shelters more than 1 million displaced Palestinians.

Avichay Adraee, head of the Arab media division of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, said in a statement that people in the Rafah and Al-Shaboura camps, and in the neighborhoods of Al-Adari, Al-Jeneina, and parts of Khirbet Al-Adas, should “immediately head to the expanded humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi.”

Al-Mawasi is an area that has already been crowded with displaced Palestinians before civilians in Rafah were ordered to move there, as reported by CNN.

This has met with sharp criticism from European Union Council President Charles Michel, who said that it is “unacceptable” for the Israeli military to issue evacuation orders for civilians in Rafah to “unsafe zones.”

“We call on the Israeli government to respect international humanitarian law and urge not to undertake a ground operation in #Rafah,” he said in an X post on Saturday.

Additionally, Michel said humanitarian assistance must get through “fully functioning” crossing points. (ANI)

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