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Israel sends more troops to Rafah, expands military invasion

Smoke rises from an explosion following an Israeli strike on southern Gaza on May 15, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli military says it is sending an additional brigade to Rafah, pledging to "intensify" its ground invasion in defiance of global warnings over the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians sheltering in Gaza's far-southern city. 

Minister of military affairs Yoav Gallant said Thursday "additional forces will enter" the Rafah area and "this activity will intensify".

Israeli media quoting regime sources reported that the Commando Brigade joined the 162nd Division, which is already deployed in eastern Rafah.

At least 600,000 Palestinians have already fled Rafah to other areas in the strip after Israel intensified its military invasion there last week.

On May 6, the Israeli military took control of the Palestinian side of the crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt, essentially cutting off aid into the coastal strip.

On Thursday, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was "nearly impossible" to distribute aid within Gaza, adding that crossings were either "closed, unsafe to access, or not logistically viable."

Countries around the world, including Israel's Western allies, have warned an onslaught against Rafah would exacerbate the situation inside the besieged region.

Hamas resistance movement’s chief Ismail Haniyeh has warned that the Israeli onslaught on Rafah threatens to undermine negotiations for a Gaza ceasefire.

Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza has also been the main focus of the regime’s deadly strikes in recent days.

 In the latest attacks, Israeli forces shelled a house in the al-Faluja area of Jabalia, killing at least four Palestinians including a pregnant woman.

 In Khan Younis, Israeli shelling of a house left at least five people dead.

The overall death toll since early October reached 35,272 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and 79,205 wounded, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The figures exclude the tens of thousands of dead who are believed to be buried in the bombed-out ruins of buildings.

This year’s Nakba commemoration, marked on Wednesday, has been dominated by the plight of around 2 million Palestinians in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli war in the besieged territory.

Palestinians say the current situation is worse than Nakba as hundreds of thousands have been forced to leave their homes since the Israeli regime began its onslaught on Gaza.

Three Palestinians killed in West Bank raid

In the occupied West Bank, three Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces during a raid on Tulkarem area on Thursday. 

Local Palestinian media said a large military force entered the city from several areas and was firing at “anything that moves” in the streets.

Israeli forces reportedly stormed several money exchange shops in the city, vandalized and stole from some of them, and arrested at least one of the shop owners.

The Tel Aviv regime has escalated its acts of aggression against Palestinians across the West Bank since October 7 last year, when it began its war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of  Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied territory since then.

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