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Israel's army advances in Rafah

Israeli troops continue to penetrate Rafah, which is overcrowded with refugees. According to the UN, almost 450,000 people have now fled the city. Another hospital in the south of the Gaza Strip had to be closed.

According to eyewitness reports, Israeli troops in the southern Gaza Strip have advanced deeper into the city of Rafah. Accordingly, tanks moved from the east to districts further west. Allies such as the USA had repeatedly warned Israel against a major ground offensive in the city, particularly because of the feared consequences for the civilian population.

Until last week, around a million people had sought protection from fighting in the rest of the Gaza Strip in Rafah. According to UN estimates, almost 450,000 people have now left the city. “Empty streets in Rafah as families continue to flee in search of safety,” wrote the Palestinian relief agency UNRWA on Platform X.

The Israeli army advanced on the city from the east last week. Since then, it has also controlled the Palestinian part of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. Israel is increasing military pressure on the Islamist Hamas in Rafah to secure the release of hostages kidnapped in October.

Another hospital closed

In view of the advancing Israeli offensive, the aid organization Doctors Without Borders stopped providing care at the Indonesian hospital in Rafah. The 22 patients who remained there were referred to other facilities because their safety could no longer be guaranteed, a spokeswoman said.

According to the UN emergency agency OCHA, 24 of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are no longer operational. According to Doctors Without Borders, the organization is trying to set up field hospitals in the Gaza Strip area. However, these cannot replace a functioning health system and cannot cope with the rush of wounded civilians.

Fierce fighting in large parts of the Gaza Strip

Palestinian eyewitnesses reported continued Israeli shelling in the north, south and central sections of the Gaza Strip. The military wing of the terrorist organization Hamas said its fighters had repeatedly attacked Israeli troops at the border crossing into Egypt in Rafah. They also fired on an Israeli troop transport in Rafah. The Israeli army said its forces had “taken out several armed terrorist cells in close combat” at the Rafah border crossing.

The operation in the refugee district of Jabalia in the north of the Gaza Strip has also been expanded. In total, the air force “attacked more than 100 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip” within 24 hours. Hamas said it fired another rocket from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.

Qatar speaks of an “almost standstill” in talks

According to the mediating state of Qatar, efforts to reach a ceasefire have almost come to a “standstill”. There are fundamental disagreements between Hamas and Israel, said Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in the capital Doha. One side wants to end the war and then talk about the hostages, the other side wants to free the hostages and continue the war. “As long as there is no agreement on these two things, we will not reach any conclusion,” he stressed.

For weeks, Qatar, together with representatives from the USA and Egypt, has been trying to broker an agreement between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.

Netanyahu: Israel is fighting for its existence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized determination on his country's Independence Day. At the central ceremony on Soldiers' Remembrance Day, he called the war a fight for the existence of his country. According to its Defense Minister Joav Gallant, the outcome of the war will determine the lives of Israelis in the coming decades. “This is a war with no alternative,” Gallant said.

On the eve of Independence Day, around 100,000 people remembered the fate of the 132 hostages in the Gaza Strip at a rally in Tel Aviv, according to the organizers. There were also protests against Netanyahu and his government. One speaker accused the government of failure.

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