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CAIRO: Israel’s military killed dozens of people in new attacks in Gaza, Palestinian medics said on Monday, and its forces maintained a blockade of two hospitals where they claim Hamas group are hiding.

As Israel pressed on with its offensive, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was a growing international consensus around telling Israel a ceasefire was needed and that an assault on Rafah would cause a humanitarian disaster.

Rafah, the last refuge for over a million Palestinians on the Gaza Strip’s southern border with Egypt, was among cities that came under fire in the latest attacks.

Palestinian medics said 30 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours in Rafah, whose population has been swollen by displaced Palestinians escaping fighting elsewhere in Gaza after more than five months of war.

“Every bombing that takes place in Rafah, we fear the tanks will come in. The past 24 hours were one of the worst days since we moved into Rafah,” said Abu Khaled, a father of seven, who declined to give his full name for fear of reprisals.

“In Rafah, we live in fear, we are hungry, we are homeless and our future is unknown. With no ceasefire in sight, we might end up dead or displaced somewhere else, maybe north and maybe south (to Egypt),” he told Reuters via a chat app.

Dozens of Palestinians took part in rallies and attended funerals early on Monday after an Israeli airstrike killed 18 Palestinians in one house in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, the Palestinians medics and witnesses said.

UN Security Council demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Israeli forces were also besieging Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, Palestinian witnesses said, a week after entering Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the main hospital in the Strip.

Israel says hospitals in Gaza are used by the Palestinian group Hamas as bases, and has released videos and pictures supporting the assertion.

Hamas and medical staff deny this, and did not say whether any fighters were among those killed in the latest attacks.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday its forces were “continuing to conduct precise operational activity in the Shifa Hospital area while preventing harm to civilians, patients, medical teams, and medical equipment”.

It said its forces had detained 500 people affiliated with Hamas and the allied Islamic Jihad and had located weapons in the area.

The health ministry in Gaza said hundreds of patients and medical staff had been detained at Al Shifa.

Israel’s military also said its forces continued “precisely targeted raids on terror infrastructure in Al-Amal” and that “20 terrorists were eliminated in the Al Amal area over the past day in close-quarters combat and aerial strikes”.

For Gaza’s children, Eid will be amid death and destruction

Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side.

Growing international consensus

Over 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and 74,500 injured in Israel’s offensive in Gaza, Palestinians health officials say.

US-backed mediation by Qatar and Egypt has so far failed to secure agreement between Israel and Hamas on a ceasefire, a hostage-prisoner swap and the unfettered provision of aid to Gaza civilians, with each side sticking to core demands.

Hamas wants any deal to bring an end to the war and entail the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Israel has ruled this out, saying it will keep fighting until Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction, is eradicated as a political and military force.

A Palestinian official, with knowledge of the mediation effort, told Reuters that the gap between the two sides had not been bridged yet, blaming the lack of progress on Israel and the United States for refusing to commit to ending the war.

Blinken says Rafah offensive risks further isolating Israel globally

Israel blames Hamas for the failure to secure a deal. Signs of strain have emerged in relations between Israel and its main ally, the United States, as the humanitarian plight of civilians in Gaza worsened and fears of famine grew in the coastal enclave that is home to about 2.3 million people.

“We see a growing consensus emerging in the international community to tell the Israelis that the ceasefire is needed,” UN chief Guterres said on a visit to Jordan.

He told a press conference that he also saw “a growing consensus, I heard in the US, I heard from the European Union, not to mention of course the Muslim world, to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster”.


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