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Israel seizes Rafah border crossing, raises Israeli flags

Israel begins a military offensive in eastern Rafah, despite Hamas accepting a ceasefire deal and US President Joe Biden asking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attack Gaza's southernmost city where 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge. Footage shows occupation forces seizing Gaza's only border crossing with Egypt, immediately cutting off aid to the besieged Strip. Ahead of the assault, Israel told 100,000 Palestinians to flee from eastern Rafah.

May 7, 2024 at 10:29 am

Israeli occupation forces seized control of the Rafah border crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt today and its tanks pushed into the southern Gazan town of Rafah after a night of air strikes on the Palestinian enclave, Reuters reports.

The Israeli offensive took place after Israel refused a ceasefire deal which the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, agreed to yesterday, vowing instead to move ahead with its onslaught on Rafah.

Amid international concerns over the plight of the 1.5 million Palestinian civilians who are crammed into Rafah after being forcibly displaced from their homes across the Strip, Israeli tanks and planes attacked several areas and houses there overnight. The Gaza Ministry of Health said Israeli strikes across the enclave had killed 54 Palestinians and wounded 96 others in the past 24 hours.

Palestinians in Rafah have been living in tented camps and makeshift shelters. Many are trying to flee once again, heeding Israeli orders for them to leave the area, but with large areas of the coastal enclave already laid to waste, they say they have nowhere safe to go to.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, speaking in Brussels today, said the assault on Rafah would be deadly for civilians.

“The Rafah offensive has started again, in spite of all the requests of the international community, the US, the European Union member states, everybody asking [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu not to attack,” Borrell told reporters.

“I am afraid that this is going to cause again a lot of casualties, civilian casualties,” he said. “There are no safe zones in Gaza.”

A total of 34,789 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its brutal bombing campaign in Gaza.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only lifeline to the outside world, was closed today after Israeli military tanks took over the facility banning aid trucks from entering the besieged enclave.

Red Crescent sources in Egypt said aid to Gaza had completely halted at Rafah and at the Israeli-controlled Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing.

The United States and other foreign governments have been pressing Israel not to start a campaign in Rafah until it had drawn up a humanitarian plan for the Palestinians sheltering there.

“The Israeli occupation has sentenced the residents of the Strip to death after closure of the Rafah border crossing,” said Hisham Edwan, spokesperson for the Gaza Border Crossing Authority.

Palestinian families could be seen to be on the move yet again, piling children and possessions onto donkey carts and pick-up trucks or simply walking through the muddy streets.

Abdullah Al-Najar said this was the fourth time he had been displaced since October.

“God knows where we will go now. We have not decided yet,” he said.

READ: Palestinians flee eastern Rafah amid Israel plans to invade