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Biden urges Netanyahu to shield Rafah civilians in an attack

Gwen Ackerman and Akayla Gardner, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Netanyahu said on Fox News Sunday that “there’s plenty of room north of Rafah for them to go to, and that’s where we’re going to direct them,” including with fliers, mobile phone calls, safe corridors.

In Sunday’s call, Biden reaffirmed the “shared goal to see Hamas defeated and to ensure the long-term security of Israel and its people,” while also calling for stepped-up humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians, the White House said in a statement.

Egypt said Sunday it opposes an Israeli military operation in Rafah, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. It didn’t mention a claim by Egyptian parliamentarian Mostafa Bakry on social media that Egypt had threatened to take the extraordinary step of suspending its 45-year-old peace treaty with Israel if it sends its troops into Rafah.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned of a “humanitarian disaster” and said she plans to visit Israel this week to discuss efforts toward a Gaza cease-fire and the release of Hamas-held hostages.

Hamas toll

Fighting between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage. Israel’s retaliatory air and ground offensive has killed more than 28,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Netanyahu estimated on ABC that about 12,000 of the dead were Hamas fighters.

Netanyahu and his government insist that Israel must eliminate Hamas and free all hostages. Negotiations for their release are underway, but an agreement remains elusive. Egypt, a mediator in the talks, has warned Hamas that it must reach an accord within about two weeks or Israel will proceed with the Rafah invasion, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

 

Israel has repeatedly said that only military pressure will bring Hamas to the table with an offer Israel would be willing to consider.

“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday while touring an army base after the discovery of a new Hamas tunnel.

The tunnel, which Israel showed had passed under UNRWA’s main headquarters in Gaza and received its power from its offices, contained a variety of intelligence assets, according to the army. Discoveries throughout Gaza “demonstrate we have penetrated into Hamas’ most sensitive locations,” Gallant said.

Inside the headquarters, Israeli forces discovered rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives as well as intelligence and documents, which the army said in its statement “confirmed the offices have, in fact, also been used by Hamas terrorists.”

UNRWA had no idea what was under its Gaza headquarters and hadn’t used the compound since it left on Oct. 1, Lazzarini said on X, formerly known as Twitter. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, rejected the claim.

“Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, it’s not that you didn’t know,” Erdan said on X, urging the leader’s resignation. “You didn’t want to know! You buried your head in the sand!”


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