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Israel intensifies strikes on Rafah, Israeli Minister is “proud of the ruins of Gaza”

Israel stepped up its bombardment of Rafah in southern Gaza, with an airstrike killing more than a dozen members of one family, locals said.

In Jerusalem, Israeli military cabinet member Benny Gantz noted “promising early signs of progress” on a new deal to free hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza, amid talks by the US, Egypt and Qatar to seek a pause in the war.

The Israeli army (IDF) said it has stepped up operations in Khan Younis. Rafah, on the southernmost edge of the enclave near the border with Egypt, is estimated to be home to about 1.5 million people, most of whom fled their homes in the north to escape Israel’s military offensive.

The flow of aid into Gaza from Egypt has all but dried up over the past fortnight, and the decline in security has made it increasingly difficult to distribute the food that does manage to arrive, according to the UN and officials.

Israel said it was preparing for a ground attack on Rafah despite growing international opposition, including from staunch ally the United States, because of fears for civilian lives.

Israeli Minister of Social Equality and the Advancement of Women May Golan (Likud Party) said she was “proud of the ruins of Gaza”. She claimed:

Personally, I am proud of the ruins of Gaza and that every child, even 80 years from now, will tell their grandchildren what the Jews did.

Gaza’s health ministry said on Wednesday that 69,333 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war began on 7 October, in addition to the 29,313 dead, with 118 killed in the past 24 hours.

The war was triggered by a Hamas attack into Israel on 7 October, when militants stormed across the border into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking some 253 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

After promising to destroy Hamas, Israel responded with air and ground strikes on Gaza that displaced much of the population of 2.3 million, widespread famine and destroyed much of the territory.

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