Israel Pushes Into Central Rafah in Southern Gaza Offensive

The Israeli military said on Friday that its forces had advanced into central Rafah, pushing even deeper into the southern Gaza city despite an international backlash and pressure from allies to scale back the latest offensive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Israeli commandoes backed by tanks and artillery were operating in central Rafah, the Israeli military said in a statement, without specifying precise locations. On Wednesday, the Israeli military said it had established “operational control” over the border zone with Egypt, an eight-mile-long strip known as the Philadelphi Corridor, on the outskirts of Rafah.

More than one million Palestinians in Rafah, about half the territory’s total population, have fled the Israeli offensive over the past few weeks, according to the United Nations, many of them displaced for the second or third time in this conflict. Many had sought refuge there after Israel ordered a mass evacuation of northern Gaza in late October, swelling the city’s population to 1.4 million.

Israel has followed through with its offensive in Rafah despite concerns from close allies like the United States over the safety of displaced Palestinians and other civilians sheltering there. Israeli officials say they cannot defeat Hamas in Gaza without rooting out its forces in the city and demolishing a network of the group’s cross-border tunnels used to smuggle in munitions and other supplies from neighboring Egypt.

But the assault has deepened the misery of many ordinary Palestinians. On Sunday, at least 45 people were killed in a single Israeli strike, according to Gazan health officials. The Israeli military said the bombardment had targeted two Hamas commanders, but unintentionally also set off a blaze at a nearby area where civilians were sheltering.

Last week, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to rein in its ongoing military offensive in Rafah, warning of irreparable harm to civilians, although some of the judges wrote that Israel could still conduct some military operations there. The Israeli military pressed on with the operation despite that pressure, describing its Rafah campaign as limited and precise.

Commercially available satellite imagery taken by Planet Labs on Thursday showed that the Israeli military had set up positions in parts of central Rafah, while military vehicles and tanks could be spotted as far as the outskirts of the Tel al-Sultan area in western Rafah.

Source: Satellite imagery from Planet Labs
The Rafah crossing has served as a vital conduit for getting humanitarian aid into Gaza amid widespread deprivation and hunger. It also served as the main gateway for sick and wounded Gaza residents to flee the fighting and receive urgent medical care.

Israeli officials say the portal was a central part of Hamas’s smuggling operations into the enclave, which has been subject to a crushing Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the Palestinian armed group seized control of Gaza by force in 2007.

The crossing has been shuttered since its capture by Israeli forces, and Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian officials have been unable to reach a deal to resume operations there.

After U.S. pressure, Egypt began diverting some aid trucks to another crossing, the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom, this week in an attempt to alleviate a sharp decline in aid entering Gaza.

Israel says its latest operation in Jabaliya is over, and other news.
Israeli forces have finished their military operation in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, the Israeli military and a Palestinian resident said on Friday, after weeks of intense fighting that has left behind widespread devastation in the area. The Israeli military swept through Jabaliya late last year and then returned in force in May to crack down on a renewed Hamas insurgency in the area. Fatma Edaama, a 36-year-old resident of Jabaliya, said that large swathes of a neighborhood near her home were destroyed in the recent incursion. “As soon as we get the opportunity to leave, we will,” she said. “We now see there’s no life for us in Gaza.”

The National Unity party of Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet who this month threatened to resign by June 8 unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drafted a plan for Gaza’s future, said on Thursday that one of its lawmakers had submitted a motion to dissolve Parliament. Party officials said the move was intended to emphasize the seriousness of Mr. Gantz’s ultimatum. But even if the motion came to a vote, it is still unclear whether Mr. Gantz would have enough support in Parliament to topple Mr. Netanyahu’s government and head to elections.

American and British forces struck Houthi targets in Yemen and over the Red Sea, destroying eight drones, the U.S. Central Command said on social media. The airstrikes took place between 3:15 and 5 p.m. in Yemen and followed an uptick in Houthi attacks on shipping in recent days. The strikes hit 13 sites that “presented a threat to U.S. and coalition forces and merchant vessels in the region,” the military said. vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx vcx

The post Israel Pushes Into Central Rafah in Southern Gaza Offensive appeared first on The Muslim News.

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