Israel seizes Rafah Crossing after overnight assault

This photo provided by the Israel Defense Forces shows a tank with an Israel flag on it entering the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces via AP)

The Israeli military took operational control of the Palestinian side of Gaza’s Rafah Crossing on May 7th — a station bordering Egypt invaluable for the delivery of aid and exit of injured civilians, reported Middle East Online and agencies. 

On the night of May 6th, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched ground and air operations in eastern Rafah. The next day, they scanned the area. 

This offensive happened amid diplomatic efforts to achieve a truce — snubbing one of Hamas’s key demands to allow for a ceasefire: the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. 

The IDF said the offensive was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, though the Gaza Crossings Authority referred to Israel’s takeover as a “death sentence” against Gazans.

READ: Ceasefire talks in Cairo ended

Several world powers, including Israel’s close ally of the United States, have repeatedly condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued violence in the region. Though on March 20th, he said Israel was “determined to complete the elimination of these battalions in Rafah, and there’s no way to do that except by going in on the ground.” 

Palestinian health officials reported that Israeli tanks and planes pounded several areas in the overnight assault — hitting at least four houses. Several civilians were wounded and 20 Palestinians killed. According to residents, Israeli tanks also shelled eastern areas of Beit Lahiya, Jabalia, and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Residents said Israel had dropped leaflets on May 7th, warning people to evacuate the area. The IDF said most people — including some international organisations — evacuated the area of operation. It said it killed around 20 fighters and located three tunnel shafts.

Middle East Online and agencies

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