Advertisement

Israel presses ground attack in central Rafah

By Mike Heuer
Smoke rises during a renewed Israeli strike on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. Photo by Haitham Imad/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Smoke rises during a renewed Israeli strike on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. Photo by Haitham Imad/EPA-EFE

May 28 (UPI) -- Israeli tanks penetrated the center of Rafah Tuesday as Israel Defense Forces continue their drive to root out remaining Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza Strip.

IDF armored forces advanced during the night and were seen by Rafah residents in several areas in the city's center, including near the Al-Awda mosque, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Advertisement

The tanks are part of a "targeted" and "precise" move on Hamas battalions that fired rockets from Rahaf into Tel Aviv late last week, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told media Tuesday.

He said four IDF brigades during the past 24 hours expanded ground operations into new areas in Rafah, including the central area.

The 401st Armored, Bislach, Nahal and 12th brigades entered Rafah during the nighttime hours after IDF forces helped evacuate an estimated 950,000 Gazans since May 6, Israeli officials said.

The IDF maneuvers come two days after a fire killed an estimated 45 civilians in a tent city after IDF forces fired two artillery shells at Hamas targets Sunday.

The IDF fired two 17-kilogram munitions at two senior Hamas militants after intelligence indicated no women or children were in the compound and no tent shelters were nearby, Hagari told media Tuesday.

Advertisement

Hagari showed video of the alleged targets and said the two munitions could not have ignited a fire of that size. He suggested Hamas had weapons stored in the area.

Israeli officials earlier assured U.S. officials only precision munitions were used in the strike Sunday and suggested shrapnel or the initial explosion ignited a fuel tank that caused the civilian casualties.

The IDF controls up to 40% of Rafah after evacuating between 60% and 70% of the city's population.

Also, the IDF offensive caused the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry to close two of the city's three hospitals. The Indonesian Field Hospital and the Tal Al-Sultan Clinic are closed while the Tal Al-Sultan Maternity Hospital remains open.

Latest Headlines