Israeli defense minister says more troops will head to Rafah

Jerusalem: Israel’s defense minister says more troops will be sent into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where the military says it has destroyed Hamas tunnels and killed dozens of militants.

Israel began what it said was a limited operation in Rafah last week after the United States and other allies pressed it not to launch a full-scale invasion.

But even the limited operation has sparked an exodus of 600,000 Palestinians from the city, according to the United Nations. Before the incursion, more than a million Palestinians who had fled fighting in other areas were sheltering in Rafah.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, visiting the area on Wednesday, said, “This operation will continue as additional forces will enter.”

He said “we are wearing Hamas down,” more than seven months into the war triggered by the militant group’s Oct 7 attack.

Even as Israeli troops have pushed into parts of Rafah, Hamas has regrouped in other areas of Gaza that were heavily bombed earlier in the war, and which the military said it had cleared.

The United States has warned Israel not to launch a wide-scale offensive in Rafah because of the toll it would take on civilians. President Joe Biden has said the US won’t provide offensive weapons for such an operation.

The Hezbollah militant group said it fired dozens of rockets from Lebanon into Israel on

Thursday, the latest in tit-for-tat combat between the sides that has escalated over the last week.

The group said it fired 60 rockets at three military posts in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in retaliation for earlier Israeli airstrikes.

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