Biden warns Israel not to attack Rafah without plan to protect civilians

Jerusalem: President Joe Biden has again cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against moving forward with a military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah without a “credible and executable plan” to protect civilians.

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However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed early on Friday to reject “international dictates” on a long-term resolution of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Israeli troops entered the main hospital in southern Gaza on Thursday in what the army said was a limited operation seeking the remains of hostages taken by Hamas in the militants’ attack on October 7 that started the war.

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Israeli troops, tanks and snipers had surrounded the hospital compound in the town of Khan Younis for at least a week, with heavy fire all around it, killing several people inside the compound in recent days, according to health officials. Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian structures to shield its fighters.

Also Thursday, Israel launched airstrikes in southern Lebanon for a second day after killing 10 civilians and three Hezbollah fighters the day before in response to a rocket attack that killed an Israeli soldier and wounded several others in northern Israel. Wednesday was the deadliest of daily exchanges of fire along the border since the October 7 start of the war in Gaza.

The number of Palestinians killed during the war in Gaza has surpassed 28,000 people, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A quarter of Gaza’s residents are starving. About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and around 250 abducted in Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.

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