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The ongoing conflict in Gaza has taken a deadly turn with Hamas warning about the severe consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. The Islamic extremist movement stated that tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city, which is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of the total population of Gaza, and the vast majority of them are refugees who fled the Israeli offensive in other areas of the Strip.

The Hamas Health Ministry reported intense fighting at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and the raid of Al Amal hospital in Rafah by Israeli forces. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the military to draw up a plan for the evacuation of civilians from Rafah. However, there are concerns that forcing civilians to evacuate without a safe place to go could result in a potential humanitarian catastrophe, as warned by the United States, the European Union, and the UN.

The conflict began when Islamist militants killed more than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250 in southern Israel. In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a relentless campaign of bombing and ground operations against Gaza, resulting in mainly women, children, and adolescents being killed.

On the diplomatic front, a “new cycle of negotiations” began in Cairo with the aim of obtaining greater access to humanitarian aid to Gaza and an exchange of hostages held by Hamas by Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The war in Gaza also exacerbated tensions in other countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria

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