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Israeli threat to attack Rafah sparks global concerns

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The United States has urged Israel to refrain from launching a large-scale attack on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians find themselves trapped. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, undeterred, remains committed to a “powerful” operation in a bid to achieve “complete victory” over the Hamas militant group.

US President Joe Biden, in a late-night phone call with Netanyahu, emphasized the need for a strategic plan that ensures the safety of civilians in Rafah. The White House, along with several nations including Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, expressed deep concerns about the potential devastating humanitarian impact of a military incursion into Rafah.

The overcrowded city now hosts over half of Gaza’s population, with displaced individuals crammed into less than 20% of the territory, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. The situation has led to a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egyptian border, where hundreds of thousands seek shelter.

As tensions escalate, Israeli strikes killed 112 people across the Palestinian territory, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The Israeli army reported the death of another soldier, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in the ground operation to 233.

In a concerning development, Israel sent troops into Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza, accusing Hamas of using it for military purposes. The hospital, described as a critical facility for all of Gaza by the World Health Organization, faced a “precise and limited operation” by Israeli forces, leaving patients and staff in a chaotic and catastrophic situation.

International mediators from the United States, Qatar, and Egypt convened in Cairo to broker a deal, aiming to halt the fighting and secure the release of hostages held by both sides. CIA director Bill Burns made an unannounced visit to Israel for talks with Netanyahu, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed optimism about the possibility of an agreement.

As truce talks continue, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas urges Hamas to agree to a truce swiftly to prevent further tragedy. Meanwhile, Netanyahu rejects a plan for international recognition of a Palestinian state, adding a layer of complexity to the ongoing diplomatic efforts. The situation remains precarious, with global leaders closely monitoring developments in the region.

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