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Crackdown on the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza: Israel takes control of Rafah Crossing, launches precise counter-terrorism operation against Hamas

Explosions were heard to the east of Rafah, an area where the Israel Defense Forces had called for an evacuation of civilians earlier on Monday.

On Tuesday (7th May), the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) took control of the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, pushing into the southern Gazan town.

Taking to X, the IDF informed about the operation and said, “A precise counter-terrorism operation to eliminate Hamas terrorists and infrastructure within specific areas of eastern Rafah began overnight, based on intelligence.”

Israeli tanks near Rafah crossing (Image: IDF)

“IDF troops managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing following intelligence that the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah was being used for terrorist purposes. This is after mortars were fired from the area of the Rafah Crossing toward the area of the Kerem Shalom Crossing which killed 4 IDF soldiers and injured several others,” it added.

The IDF says that between 5,000 and 8,000 Hamas terrorists stay in the southern city, which it deems the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group Hamas’s last stronghold. The military operation came as Israel found that Hamas has four battalions in Rafah and that many senior Hamas terrorists could be hiding there.

Wael Abu Omar,  a spokesperson of the Palestinian Crossings Authority said that the IDF has seized the Rafah crossing and closed it for now.

The present IDF offensive in Rafah is a “limited operation,” according to an Israeli official. “It is being implemented to pressure Hamas” to accept a deal. This is not the large-scale Rafah operation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frequently pledged to take out, according to CNN.

Building destroyed after Israeli strike in Rafah (Image: AP)

Multiple explosions were reported in the Rafah area of southern Gaza on Monday night, May 6, according to CNN. This comes hours after Israel said that Hamas’ ceasefire proposal is far from meeting its core demands. As per the report, several local social media accounts reported that the explosions were heard to the east of Rafah, an area where the Israel Defense Forces had called for an evacuation of civilians earlier on Monday.

Meanwhile, the United States has said that it cannot support an operation in Rafah the way it is envisioned as of now. “We’ve made quite clear our position on Rafah for some time, which is that we cannot support an operation in Rafah as it is currently envisioned. We have made clear – the Secretary made this clear in his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of the Israeli Government last week – that we have not seen a humanitarian plan that is credible and that is implementable,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a press briefing on Monday (local time).

Clarifying the US’ stance on Israel’s ground offensive in Rafah, Miller said that it would not only increase the suffering of Palestinians but also disrupt aid delivery.

“We believe a military operation in Rafah right now would dramatically increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, would lead to an increase in the loss of civilian life, and would dramatically disrupt the delivery of humanitarian assistance, all of which is coming through – I shouldn’t say “all,” but the great majority of which is coming through Kerem Shalom or Rafah and is being distributed inside the Rafah area,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Israel has been under pressure from the international community to refrain from launching a ground operation in Rafah, which has for weeks been under Israeli aerial bombardment. The city is the last major refuge of Hamas in Gaza.

(With inputs from ANI)

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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