IDF Rafah May 2024.  / IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com

The Israeli military announced on Tuesday that its ground forces captured the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, cutting off a vital aid route as Palestinians are facing starvation.

Israeli tanks and troops entered Rafah late Monday, and Israeli strikes pounded the city throughout the night, hitting residential homes. According to AP, hospital records show that at least 23 Palestinians were killed in the bombardment, including six women and five children.

The Israeli military claimed that it killed about 20 Hamas fighters in exchanges of gunfire. The Israeli military also claimed that the Rafah crossing had been used for “terrorist operations” but did not provide evidence.

The Rafah border crossing has been the main hub for aid deliveries into Gaza and was the only crossing not controlled by Israel. The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing still remains closed.

The cutting off of vital aid channels comes after WFP chief Cindy McCain said northern Gaza was already experiencing a “full-blown famine.” James Elder, the head of the UN’s children’s relief agency, said on Tuesday that if the Rafah crossing is closed for an extended period of time, it would be “hard to see how famine in Gaza can be averted.”

Also on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal that was accepted by Hamas. He accused the Palestinian group of trying to “sabotage the entry of our forces into Rafah” by announcing it accepted the ceasefire deal.

Netanyahu said the deal Hamas accepted was “very far from Israel’s vital demands” and he vowed Israel would not allow “Hamas to restore its wicked rule in the Strip.”

The US has claimed it’s opposed to an Israeli assault on Rafah since the city is packed with 1.4 million civilians, and they have nowhere to go. But the US appears to have accepted the Israeli decision to attack, as the White House said Israel informed the US that the operation would be limited.

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Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.

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