Residents of Rafah reported artillery bombardments and intense shooting Thursday in this town in the south of the Gaza Strip where the Israeli army announced that it controlled a strategic buffer zone between the Palestinian territory and Egypt.

Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Wednesday that the war between his country and Hamas could continue for “another seven months” in order to achieve the goal of destroying the Palestinian Islamist movement in power in Gaza. since 2007 and author of an unprecedented attack against Israel on October 7.

Despite international outrage over a deadly bombing on Sunday of a camp for displaced people in Rafah, the Israeli army continues its ground offensive in the overpopulated town in the south of the Gaza Strip, launched on May 7 to eliminate the last Hamas battalions, according to her.

After beginning operations in the east of the city, it then progressed towards the west, leading to the exodus in three weeks of around a million people, according to the UN, most of them displaced again on roads to already overpopulated areas of besieged territory.

– “Oxygen pipe” –
Witnesses reported intense artillery shelling and gunfire in western and central areas of Rafah. Strikes also hit the Tel Zareb sector in the west.

During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported the death of two of its rescuers in a “direct strike” by the Israeli army against one of its ambulances in the western sector of Rafah.

In Gaza City (north), artillery fire took place in Zeitoun, in the southeast, according to AFP journalists.

Still in the north of the territory, the army targeted the Jabalia camp and Beit Layia, with smoke rising above these areas, according to witnesses.

The army announced Wednesday evening that it had taken control “in recent days” of the Philadelphia Corridor, a 14-kilometer-long buffer zone which borders the Egyptian border along the south of the Gaza Strip, near Rafah.

“The Philadelphia corridor served as an oxygen pipe for Hamas, through which it regularly transported weapons to the Gaza Strip,” said Daniel Hagari.

He added that the army had “discovered a sophisticated underground terrorist infrastructure east of Rafah with a length of one and a half kilometers about 100 meters from the crossing” between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has denied the existence of tunnels under the border, saying that Israel was seeking to justify its offensive in Rafah.

Cairo and Israel also blame each other for blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid through the Rafah border post, the only crossing point between the Palestinian territory and Egypt, since the Israeli army took over. took control, on the Palestinian side, at the beginning of May.

– Draft resolution –
This crossing point is crucial for the entry of aid which the population of the Gaza Strip, devastated by almost eight months of war, desperately needs, while the UN and NGOs regularly warn of a risk of famine in the territory, where products enter in dribs and drabs via other passages.

The October 7 attack in Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to a count carried out by AFP based on the latest official data available.

Of the 252 people taken as hostages during the attack, 121 are still being held in Gaza, of whom 37 have died according to the army.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union, and launched an offensive that has so far left 36,171 people dead in the Strip. Gaza, according to the Hamas administration's health ministry.

The war has displaced the majority of Gaza's approximately 2.4 million residents and caused a major humanitarian catastrophe.

On the diplomatic front, Algeria presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Tuesday demanding an “immediate” ceasefire and an end to the offensive in Rafah.

The Algerian draft was distributed during an emergency council meeting called after the Israeli bombing Sunday on a camp for displaced people in Rafah which left 45 dead, according to the Hamas health ministry.

– Call from the Egyptian president –
According to the New York Times and CNN, which rely among other things on an analysis of images of munitions debris, the Israeli army used American GBU-39 guided bombs for this strike with an explosive charge of approximately 17 kilos.

Israel's main political and military supporter, the United States has affirmed that it “does not turn a blind eye” to the victims in Rafah but believes that Israel has not launched a “major” offensive against this city likely to question their support.

In Beijing for a forum bringing together China and Arab countries, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi called on Thursday to prevent any displacement of Gazans “by force”. Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an “extended peace conference” to end the conflict, saying justice should “not be absent forever.”

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