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Gaza Strip, Rafah. Israel continues military operation

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Israel's war cabinet unanimously approved continuing operations in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip to “put pressure on Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Monday. Media reports of ongoing bombing of Rafah.

On Monday evening, there were intensive raids by the Israeli army east of Rafah, the AFP agency reported. “We are currently conducting targeted strikes against Hamas in eastern Rafah,” the Israeli army announced. An earlier statement said that more than 50 targets in the city were attacked during the day.

On Monday morning, the Israeli military ordered 100,000 people from eastern Rafah to evacuate to designated “humanitarian zones” in the nearby towns of Khan Yunus and Al-Mawasi. This was widely commented as preparation for the long-announced offensive on the city.

Hundreds of Palestinians evacuate eastern districts of Rafah following warnings from Israel. Photo from May 6Ali Jadallah / Anadolu/ABACAPRESS.COM/PAP/Abaca

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Rafah as the “last bastion of Hamas”

Rafah, which had a population of approximately 250,000 before the war, currently shelters approximately 1.4 of the 2.3 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip – refugees who fled from other regions. Israel considers Rafah to be the last stronghold of Hamas, where the organization's leaders are hiding and where the remaining hostages kidnapped during the terrorist attack on October 7 last year are probably also being held. The international community has warned that such an operation would lead to further civilian casualties and worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Israel: ceasefire conditions accepted by Hamas “far from basic demands”

Also on Monday, the Hamas leadership announced that it accepted the ceasefire conditions presented by Qatar and Egypt. However, no details of Hamas' position were provided. The agreement has been negotiated for many months by intermediaries – the USA, Egypt and Qatar. Its basic assumption is to release the held hostages in exchange for a break in the fighting.

In a statement issued by Netanyahu's office on Monday evening, it was noted that the terms of the ceasefire accepted by Hamas were “far from the basic demands” of Israel. As it was added, the government will, however, send negotiators to maintain talks in order to find an agreement that would meet Israel's conditions.

Netanyahu had already announced that the operation in Rafah, aimed at the final defeat of Hamas forces, would be carried out regardless of the progress in the ceasefire talks.

White House: Biden made it clear to Netanyahu that he opposes the Rafah operation

The White House also commented on the situation.

– The President (Joe Biden – ed.) made it very clear in his conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu: we do not want to see a large land operation in Rafah that would put over a million people at greater risk. We were very direct and very consistent,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, reporting on the leaders' conversation during Monday's White House briefing.

Main photo source: Ali Jadallah / Anadolu/ABACAPRESS.COM/PAP/Abaca

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