Israel's fighting has caused Hamas to regroup in northern Gaza; America warned, threat of 'anarchy' due to Rafah attack

TEL AVIV – The Israeli military stepped up its attacks on northern Gaza on Monday, battling a regrouped Hamas in areas where it said it had cleared and renewed questions over Israeli tactics in the war as the United States. issued his harshest public criticism yet.

Israel has insisted it must invade Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than 1 million people have sought refuge, in order to “eliminate” Hamas' presence in the enclave after months of fighting to the north. To fulfill its main objective.

But Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Sunday that even a full-scale ground attack on Rafah would fail to achieve that goal.

He appeared on NBC's “Meet the Press.”

“Even if he goes in and takes heavy action in Rafah, there will still be thousands of armed Hamas left,” Blinken said. “Hamas is coming back.”

He already said, according to local health officials, Israel's attack has “led to a terrible loss of innocent civilian lives”, and the death toll in the Gaza Strip over the weekend has risen to more than 35,000. He also noted a recent report from the Biden administration, which found that Israel's use of weapons provided by the United States likely violates international humanitarian law.

Blinken said that instead of focusing on the attack on Rafah, Israel should prioritize presenting a credible post-war plan for Gaza.

“We are talking to them about better ways to achieve sustainable results, sustainable security,” said Blinken, who reiterated US opposition to “a major military ground operation” in a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant on Sunday. Was. Rafa,” according to the State Department. Gallant's office said they discussed issues including “precise operations in the Rafah area against the remaining battalions of Hamas.”

In separate comments on CBS's “Face the Nation,” Blinken said the Biden administration believes Israel needs to “get out of Gaza.”

His comments come amid growing differences between the two close allies over how to deal with Israel's deadly military offensive in Gaza.

Talks for a new ceasefire agreement appear to be breaking down, and President Joe Biden threatened last week to freeze some arms shipments to Israel if it launches a full-scale attack on Rafah.

About 360,000 people have fled the city since Israel ordered a partial evacuation a week ago and sent tanks, according to the United Nations.

It led to the closure of two main border crossings into the Palestinian enclave, sparking outrage among doctors and aid groups, while officials warned on Monday that the health system was on the verge of collapse due to shortages in food and fuel supplies.

The Gaza Health Ministry said, “We are only hours away from the collapse of the health system in the Gaza Strip as a result of the failure to bring in the fuel needed to run power generators in hospitals, ambulances and transport staff.”

The Israel Defense Forces said last week that the Kerem Shalom crossing – where four IDF soldiers were killed in a Hamas attack – had been reopened and a separate crossing in northern Gaza, the “Western Erez” crossing, was reopened on Sunday in coordination with Opening has been announced. America

The Palestinian Crossing Authority has denied claims that Kerem Shalom has been open in recent days, while a senior UN official told NBC News that although it was technically open, entry through the crossing for humanitarian organizations Access to and delivery of assistance has been extremely difficult.

Georgios Petropoulos, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mission in Gaza, said, “The UN has been able to mobilize only a limited number of types of assistance in extremely challenging circumstances.” The Rafah crossing, the main lifeline for aid into Gaza, has been closed since it was seized by Israeli forces last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, northern Gaza has been isolated for months, with the head of the World Food Program telling NBC News earlier this month that he believes there is “complete famine” in the area.

Yet, despite the toll Israel's military campaign has taken on civilians in Gaza, Hamas appeared far from defeated.

The IDF said on Sunday that its forces had launched an operation around the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza after issuing a call to civilians to “temporarily evacuate” the area. The IDF said it was acting on intelligence regarding “Hamas' efforts to regroup its terrorist infrastructure and operatives in the area”.

The IDF said the attack was taking place simultaneously with military operations in the Zitoun area of ​​Gaza City as its troops also pushed deeper into Rafah.

Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement on Telegram early Monday that militants were still “engaged in fierce clashes” east of the Jabaliya camp, as well as to the south.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan suggested in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, on Sunday that instead of attacking Rafah, “alternative courses of action” may be necessary to ensure that Hamas “does not control Gaza.” I lose everywhere. Call readout.

Israeli forces launched their attack after Hamas' October 7 attack, which killed about 1,200 people and took about 250 hostages, according to Israeli officials, a major escalation in the decades-long conflict. More than 130 people have been taken captive in Gaza, with at least a quarter of the hostages believed to have died.

Raf Sanchez reported from Tel Aviv and Chantal da Silva from London.

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