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Israel steps up bombing of Rafah as tanks push west

June 7, 2024 at 9:42 am

Israeli attacks on Gaza and the movement of tanks along the border continue on May 30, 2024 in Israel. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces pounded Rafah from the air and ground overnight as tanks tried to advance further west, Reuters reported residents saying.

Residents said tanks that have taken control along the borderline with Egypt made several raids towards the west and the centre of the southern city, wounding several residents who had been trapped inside their homes and were taken by surprise.

“I think the occupation forces are trying to reach the beach area of Rafah, the raids and the bombing overnight were tactical, they entered under heavy fire before they retreated,” said one Palestinian man.

“It was one of the worst nights, some people were wounded inside their homes, before being evacuated this morning,” he said.

Israeli forces also attacked Al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip using ground forces, while two other camps and a city nearby came under heavy bombardment from planes and tanks, killing and wounding several Palestinians, medics said.

Resistance groups reported their fighters carried out attacks against invading Israeli forces in several areas in central and southern areas of the enclave.

Read: Dozens killed in Israel strike on UN school in Gaza

Last month, US President Joe Biden told CNN he had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem.”

Rafah has been a designated ‘safe zone’ where some 1.5 million Palestinians had taken refuge, the over one million after being forcibly displaced from their homes from other areas of the enclave.

The US administration has, however, denied that Israel has increased its strikes on Rafah sufficiently to warrant the cessation of weapons transfers, in spite of the rising civilian death toll in the area.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza has killed more than 36,600 Palestinians, according to health officials, who say thousands more dead are feared buried under the rubble.