Israeli military captures Gaza side of Rafah border crossing

Israeli military captures Gaza side of Rafah border crossing

Israel’s military said Tuesday that it had captured the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing in an air and ground operation launched overnight. Photo courtesy of Israel Defense Forces/X

May 7 (UPI) — Israel’s military on Tuesday said it launched an operation into Rafah overnight and gained control of the Gazan border crossing with Egypt.

Israel Defense Forces posted a picture to its social media accounts showing tanks rolling through eastern Rafah, one adorned with an Israeli flag, after ground troops and fighter jets struck Hamas targets there, including military structures and underground infrastructure.

Some 20 militants had been “eliminated” in what the IDF described in a statement as “a precise counterterrorism operation” launched in eastern Rafah on intelligence that Iran-backed Hamas was using it for terrorism. It said four IDF soldiers had been killed and others injured by Hamas mortars fired from the region.

“IDF ground troops are continuing to operate against Hamas terrorist operatives and infrastructure in the area of the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah,” it said.

Prior to the start of the operation, a warning was made to residents to temporarily evacuate to Al-Mawasi on the southern coast of the Gaza Strip where there has been erected an expanded humanitarian area.

The operation was conducted amid expectations that Israel will launch a full ground invasion of Rafah, where some 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter amid the seven-month-old war.

UNRWA, the United Nations’ relief mission for Palestinian refugees, had announced prior to the military offensive that it would not heed the evacuation orders.

Early Tuesday, it warned that continued interruption of aid and fuel supplies entering Gaza via the Rafah border crossing “will halt the critical humanitarian response across” the strip.

The United States and the United Nations are among those calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to not go through with the widely anticipated invasion of Rafah, which they say could worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in the Palestine enclave. Martin Griffiths, the U.N.’s top humanitarian aid coordinator, recently said the invasion “will be nothing short of a tragedy beyond words.”

Late Monday, Netanyahu’s office had said the War Cabinet in charge of the Gaza military campaign had unanimously signed off its ground offensive of Rafah “in order to apply military pressure on Hamas so as to advance the release of our hostages and achieve the other objectives of the war.”

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz of Israel said the IDF in Rafah promotes two main goals of their war in Gaza, which are the release of hostages Hamas took when it began the conflict on Oct. 7 and the defeat of the militant organization.

“If not for the hostages dear to our hearts, for whose release we are bound by a supreme obligation and we will do everything to bring them home, the Hamas gang would have long since been crushed and thrown into the dustbin of history,” he said on X.

“It’s the only weapon they have and they use it sadistically to try to survive.”  » …
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