Israeli forces release two captives after striking Rafah | Latest updates on Israel’s operations in Gaza

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Palestinians in Rafah are preparing for a major offensive as Israeli air raids have targeted the densely crowded city, resulting in conflicting reports on the death toll. Health officials in Gaza reported that dozens were killed in the pre-dawn strikes, with one news agency reporting 52 deaths and another reporting 37. The strikes hit houses and mosques in Rafah, with Israel’s military claiming to have targeted “terror targets” and rescuing captives taken by Hamas.
Hamas has warned that an Israeli ground assault in Rafah would jeopardize negotiations to release their remaining captives, while aid agencies fear massive civilian casualties in the last safe area of Gaza. United States President Joe Biden has warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to launch an offensive without a credible plan for the safety of people in Rafah. Netanyahu has promised safe passage for Palestinians in Rafah, but the lack of clarity on evacuation plans has sparked fears of tensions with Cairo as Palestinians may be pushed into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Netanyahu has mentioned directing people north of Rafah but has not specified where it would be safe to evacuate to.

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