Gaza death toll passes 28,000

  • Gaza’s health ministry says 117 Palestinians have been killed and 152 wound during the past 24 hours.
  • As Israel intensifies its attacks on Rafah, people are now escaping to the central part of the Gaza Strip about 20km (eight miles) away.

    Report: Netanyahu wants to re-mobilise Israeli army reservists for Rafah operation

    The Israeli prime minister urged Israeli army chief of staff Herzi Halevi to recruit again reservists who had been released from military service, Israeli broadcaster Channel 13 reports.

    Halevi’s response, according to the report, was to tell Netanyahu that the army can handle any task.

    Channel 13 goes on to say, citing a “senior Israeli official”,  that the army’s Rafah operation is getting closer to starting, but that coordination with the Egyptians has not yet been achieved.

    Israeli forces hit Deir al-Balah

    Our colleagues at Al Jazeera are reporting that Israeli forces have hit a home in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

    It was not immediately clear how many casualties resulted from the attack.

    Police in Tel Aviv break up anti-Netanyahu protests

    Israeli media outlets are reporting that police took action against the demonstrators, who number in the thousands, after they tried to block Kaplan Street in central Tel Aviv.

    The protesters are demanding elections and showing their anger at the Israeli prime minister for his failure to bring captives still held in Gaza home.

    Reports say that these protests are occurring at dozens of other locations throughout Israel’s capital.

    Video published by one outlet shows protesters blocking Kaplan Street:

    Israel’s Rafah operation will take months and will not destroy Hamas

    Mamoun Abu Nowar, a retired general of the Jordanian air force, tells Al Jazeera that Hamas’s forces in Rafah are quite formidable.

    “The southern part of Gaza is one of [Hamas’s] command posts, as they call them,” he said. “There are strategic tunnels, they go deep, like 60 metres or so [about 200 feet], and the tactical tunnels, which are like 20, 43 metres [66, 141 feet].”

    “In order to control these tunnels,” he continued, “they have to work very hard, to cut these command posts or destroy them so [Hamas] loses this command as a whole, but this would be a very very difficult fight, it would take months.”

    Israel’s plan, in Nowar’s opinion, is to begin by forcing Palestinians in the city, many of whom have been displaced multiple times since the beginning of the war, to leave Rafah and move towards the coast, before launching its attacks.

    He said this would be a disaster for the civilian population in Rafah, and that Israel would be the “master of genocide” should it follow through with its plans to storm Rafah, which will bring them no closer to their goal of eliminating Hamas.

    “This is an endless war, and Hamas will still be there, and the Israelis will not win it,” he said.

    Israeli soldiers hit in central Gaza: Al Quds Brigades

    In a statement, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad says its fighters bombed a group of Israeli soldiers and vehicles near Maghazi refugee camp.

    Israel minister says Moody’s downgrade unreasonable, politicised

    Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has brushed off Moody’s downgrading of Israel’s credit rating, saying the decision linked to the Gaza war was not based on sound economic reasoning, and was tantamount to a pessimistic “manifesto”.

    “The Israeli economy is strong by all measures. It is capable of sustaining all war efforts, on the front line and home front, until, with God’s help, victory is achieved,” he said in a response to the decision published on Friday.

    Citing material political and fiscal risks for Israel from its war with Hamas, Moody’s cut the country’s rating to “A2”, which is five notches above investment grade, while its credit outlook was kept at negative, meaning a further downgrade is possible.

    The agency said it expects Israel’s debt burden to be “materially higher” than projected before the conflict and defence spending to be nearly double the level of 2022 by the end of this year in its baseline scenario.

    Israeli forces hit Rafah, Khan Younis city

    More Israeli air raids have been carried out today, especially in the past few hours across southern Gaza.

    Those attacks generally took place in Rafah district, where a number of areas are very densely populated. A police car was targeted in an air raid in which several Palestinian officers were killed.

    Israeli forces also targeted a civilian car in the Tal as-Sultan neighbourhood, one of the most densely populated areas in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are taking refuge.

    The southern Gaza city of Khan Younis was also hit, where there is continuing bombardment of residential neighbourhoods … forcing people to leave and making living conditions there completely uninhabitable.

    Protesters in Haifa, Israel demand new elections

    Video posted on X by an Israeli journalist shows “thousands” in the streets of the Israeli city, marching to demand that new elections be held and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu be replaced.

    Demonstrators carried banners criticizing Netanyahu with slogans saying “Elections now”.

    Israeli media is also reporting that the families of the captives held in Gaza will soon protest in Tel Aviv, and that police have begun blocking streets in preparation.

    Two attacks on Israeli position announced by Hezbollah

    In the last hour, the Lebanese group has released two statements claiming strikes on Israeli soldiers.

    The first occurred at 5:15pm local time (15:15 GMT) and targeted a “gathering of Israeli enemy soldiers” in the Hadab Aita Heights with rockets, hitting them directly, a statement read.

    At 5:45pm local time (15:45 GMT), the second statement said, a building in al-Manara containing Israeli soldiers was attacked and hit directly.

    This attack, Hezbollah said, was “in response to the Zionist attacks on southern villages and civilian homes”.

    Earlier, we reported on an Israeli army attack deep into Lebanese territory that targeted a senior Hamas figure. The attack killed two civilians, a Lebanese Civil Defense official told the AFP news service.

    Israeli military says it killed two Hamas operatives in Rafah

    The Israeli air force says it killed two Hamas operatives in an air raid on Rafah.

    In a military statement, it claimed one of the victims had been responsible for the security of Hamas leaders, while the other served as a senior investigator for the Palestinian group, a military statement said.

    The Times of Israel identified the first victim as Ahmed Al-Yaaqoubi, described as a senior Hamas police official and the main target of the attack.

    A third person, an officer in the district’s police department, was also killed, the Israeli newspaper reported.

    Rafah is densely populated, as 1.4 million displaced Palestinians are estimated to be sheltering close to the border with Egypt.

    NRC says ‘no option’ for people in Gaza

    Yousef Hammash, advocacy officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council, says people in Gaza are “out of options” after being displaced from town to town for over four months.

    “People understand that there is no safe place for them in Gaza,” Hammash told Al Jazeera.

    More than 60 percent of Gaza’s houses are estimated to have been destroyed, the NRC officer added.

    “People in Rafah are trapped between Israeli tanks and the Egyptian border,” he said. “I don’t think the announcement of an evacuation plan is realistic. Where would people go?”

    If you’re just joining us

    It is 7pm (17:00 GMT) in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. Here is a recap of the latest developments:

    • A senior Hamas official has survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Lebanon, which killed two civilians.
    • Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says Israeli forces continue to fire at people inside the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, which has been under siege for 20 days.
    • The death toll in the Gaza Strip has surpassed 28,000, with more than 67,600 Palestinians wounded.
    • Qatar has condemned the Israeli threats to invade Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the city.
    • Iran’s foreign minister says that a political solution is the only way to end the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

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