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Israel Says Gaza War Likely to Last Another Seven Months as Tanks Probe Rafah

Editor

Laila Afifa

29 May 2024 22:55 WIB

TEMPO.CO, CairoIsrael sent tanks on raids into Rafah on Wednesday, May 29, and predicted its war on Hamas in Gaza would continue all year after Washington said the Rafah assault did not amount to a major ground operation that would trigger a change in U.S. policy.

Israeli tanks moved into the heart of Rafah for the first time on Tuesday, despite an order from the International Court of Justice to end its attacks on the city, where many Palestinians had taken refuge from bombardment elsewhere.

The World Court said Israel had not explained how it would keep evacuees from Rafah safe and provide food, water, and medicine. Its ruling also called on Hamas to release hostages taken from Israel on Oct. 7 immediately and unconditionally.

Rafah residents said Israeli tanks had pushed into Tel Al-Sultan in the west and Yibna and near Shaboura in the center before retreating towards a buffer zone on the border with Egypt, rather than staying put as they have in other offensives.

"We received distress calls from residents in Tel Al-Sultan where drones targeted displaced citizens as they moved from areas where they were staying toward the safe areas," the deputy director of ambulance and emergency services in Rafah, Haitham al Hams, said.

Palestinian health officials said 19 civilians had been killed in Israeli air strikes and shelling across Gaza. Israel accuses Hamas militants of hiding among civilians, which the militants deny.

Health Minister Majed Abu Raman urged Washington to pressure Israel to open the Rafah crossing to aid, saying there was no indication that Israeli authorities would do so soon and that patients in besieged Gaza were dying for lack of treatment.

The Israeli military controls three-quarters of the buffer zone on the Egyptian border and aims to control all of it to prevent Hamas smuggling in weapons, National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said.

Fighting in Gaza would continue throughout 2024 at least, he added, signaling that Israel was not ready to end the war as demanded by Hamas, as part of a deal that would see the exchange of hostages it holds for Palestinian prisoners.

"The fighting in Rafah is not a pointless war," he said, reiterating that the aim was to end Hamas rule in Gaza and stop it and its allies from attacking Israel.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, reiterated its opposition to a major ground offensive in Rafah on Tuesday while saying it did not believe such an operation was underway.



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