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IDF takes control of Gaza side of Rafah crossing

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Tel Aviv, May 7: The Israeli military has taken control of the Rafah border crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on Tuesday.

“Following intelligence that indicated that the Rafah crossing in eastern Rafah was being used for terrorist purposes, IDF troops obtained operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing,” the Army wrote on its Telegram channel.

It followed an overnight operation in which the ground troops together with the Air Force “began a precise counterterrorism operation” to eliminate the Palestinian Islamist militia Hamas and dismantle its infrastructure in eastern Rafah, the IDF said.

It added that it eliminated Hamas military structures, underground infrastructures, and other facilities the group operated.

The Army said about 20 Hamas fighters were killed in the operation. There were no Israeli injuries reported, the IDF said.

On Monday, Israeli forces began evacuating Rafah in southern Gaza as they geared up for an expected military operation there.

Israel’s allies and other international leaders have been warning against an offensive in the Rafah region. Large numbers of Palestinian civilians have sought shelter in the city after fleeing Israeli airstrikes and ground operations elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.

Israel wants to use the military operation in Rafah to destroy the remaining battalions of Hamas, which it has been fighting in the coastal strip since it attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking nearly 250 hostages.

More than 100 remaining hostages are reported to be held captive in Rafah.

Israel has been threatening to launch a ground offensive into Rafah for months, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck an uncompromising stance in recent weeks, vowing to attack the city even if a deal to release the hostages is reached.

IANS

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