Humanitarian aid is airdropped to Palestinians over Gaza City. PHOTO COURTESY OF ENGLISH.AAWSAT.COM

Jerusalem — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has escalated his pledge to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is filled with around 1.4 million Palestinians, most of whom are displaced from other parts of the Gaza Strip.

“It will happen. There is a date,” Netanyahu declared in a video statement Monday, without elaborating.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has said a ground operation into Rafah would be a mistake and has demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians. Netanyahu spoke as Israeli negotiators are in Cairo discussing international efforts to broker a cease-fire deal with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Israeli troops withdrew Sunday from Khan Younis, another city in southern Gaza, ending a key phase of the war. Defense officials say they’re regrouping ahead of a push into Rafah.

Palestinians who visited Khan Younis on Monday say the city is now unlivable, offering them little immediate chance to return. Many have been sheltering in Rafah.

The Palestinian death toll from the war has passed 33,200, with nearly 76,000 wounded, Gaza’s Health Ministry said. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

The war began Oct. 7 when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage


Israel has rejected a Turkish request for its military cargo planes to join a humanitarian aid operation for Gaza, Turkey’s foreign minister said Monday, adding that Ankara would respond by imposing a series of measures against Israel.

In a televised announcement, Hakan Fidan said Turkey — of the strongest critics of Israel’s military actions in Gaza — would continue to implement the measures until Israel declares “a cease-fire and allows aid to enter into Gaza without interruption.” The minister did not say what those measures would entail.

Fidan said Jordan had approved NATO-member Turkey’s planes joining an operation to air drop aid, but Israel rejected the request “There is no excuse for Israel to block our attempt to deliver aid by air to starving people of Gaza,” Fidan said. “Faced with this situation, we decided to take a series of new measures against Israel. These measures, approved by our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) will be implemented step by step, without delay.”

NETANYAHU VOWS TO CARRY OUT RAFAH GROUND INVASION Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his pledge to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, declaring: “There is a date.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel must send ground forces into Rafah, saying it is Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza.

But the international community, including the U.S., opposes the operation, saying the roughly 1.4 million civilians seeking shelter there will be in danger.

Israel has insisted it has a plan to protect the civilians.

In a video statement Monday, Netanyahu said the Rafah operation is essential for victory. He said, “It will happen. There is a date,” without elaborating. He spoke as Israeli negotiators were in Cairo discussing international efforts to broker a cease-fire deal with Hamas.

ISRAELI OFFENSIVE IN KHAN YOUNIS DAMAGED MORE THAN HALF OF ALL BUILDINGS IN THE CITY, MAP EXPERTS SAY A pair of mapping experts say Israel’s offensive in the southern Gaza City of Khan Younis appears to have left over half of the city’s buildings with damage or destruction visible from space.

As of last week, over 55% of the city’s buildings were likely damaged or destroyed, according to an analysis of Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite data by Corey Scher of the CUNY Graduate Center and Jamon Van Den Hoek of Oregon State University. They say that accounts for 45,000 buildings.

Still, the damage in Khan Younis and other parts of the Strip’s south is considerably less than in the north of Gaza, where the researchers estimate 70% of buildings were likely damaged or destroyed.

Israel’s ground and aerial bombardment campaign, begun after the Hamas attack Oct. 7, has wreaked unprecedented damage on the strip, leveling entire apartment buildings and leaving much of the territory in ruins, a moonscape from war.

Israel withdrew its last ground troops from Khan Younis on Sunday, marking the end of a key phase in its war against Hamas.



An Israeli official confirms that Israel is purchasing 40,000 tents to prepare for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel says Rafah is Hamas’ last stronghold and is vowing to send ground troops into the city. But the international community, including the U.S., opposes the offensive, saying it would endanger Palestinian civilians.

More than 1 million Palestinians, over half of Gaza’s population, have fled to Rafah after being displaced by fighting elsewhere in the territory.

Israel has said it has a plan to evacuate civilians ahead of its offensive, and Israel’s Defense Ministry on Monday published a tender seeking a supplier of tents.

The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the tents were part of the Rafah preparations.