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Israeli forces push into Gaza from north and south

1 min

Israeli forces pushed deep into the ruins of Gaza's northern edge on Monday to recapture an area where they claimed to have dismantled Hamas months ago, while in the south tanks and troops pushed across a highway into Rafah.

Israeli troops are seeking to wipe out Hamas, which has said it is committed to Israel's destruction © Mena Today 

Israeli forces pushed deep into the ruins of Gaza's northern edge on Monday to recapture an area where they claimed to have dismantled Hamas months ago, while in the south tanks and troops pushed across a highway into Rafah.

Some of the most intense fighting for weeks is raging in both the north and south. Israeli operations in Rafah, which borders Egypt, have closed a main crossing point for aid, which humanitarian groups say is worsening an already dire situation.

Israeli troops are seeking to wipe out Hamas, which has said it is committed to Israel's destruction. 

The militant group burst into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking more than 250 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

Attending a Memorial Day ceremony to mark Israel's fallen soldiers in Jerusalem on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war against Hamas is a struggle to secure Israel's "existence, liberty, security and prosperity."

"Our war of independence is not over yet, it continues to these days," he said.

In Rafah, Israel stepped up aerial and ground bombardments on the eastern areas of the city, killing people in an airstrike on a house in the Brazil neighbourhood.

Israel ordered residents out of the east of Rafah last week, and extended that order to central areas in recent days, sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing in search of safety.

Residents said Israeli air and ground bombardments were intensifying and tanks had cut off the main north-south Salahuddin Road dividing east of the city from the central area.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant's office said on Monday he had briefed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the "precise operation" in the Rafah area.

Jack Lew, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, signalled on Sunday that the Rafah incursion was still on a scale that Washington considers acceptable.

Hamas' armed wing said its fighters were engaged in gun battles with Israeli forces in one of the streets east of Rafah, and in the east of Jabalia.

In Israel, the military sounded sirens several times in areas near Gaza, warning of potential Palestinian cross-border rocket and or mortar launches.

Hamas and the armed wing of Islamic Jihad said in a joint statement that they fired mortar bombs against Israeli forces massing inside the Rafah crossing, which Israel captured last week.

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

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