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Israeli Military Takes Control Of Rafah Crossing In Gaza As Operational Tempo Builds Up

The Israeli military, in an early morning briefing carried by Reuters, said it had taken control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Special Forces units backed by tanks had moved in overnight and were reported to be scanning the area for Hamas hideouts and ambush locations.

The Israeli military move now blocks the only exit out of Gaza. Relief convoys are no longer coming in and humanitarian agencies are warning of catastrophe once Israel launches full scale operations.

Hamas fighters were reported to have opened fire on the Israeli units as they moved in, the fire was returned.

Al Jazeera adds that in eastern Rafah, the Israeli military was encouraging displaced people and aid organisations to temporarily evacuate the area since operations to clear out Hamas fighters were getting underway. The report said they were being pushed to the Al Mawasi area on the coast where Israel claims to have set up field hospitals, tents and medical supplies.

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Airstrikes are claimed to have killed at least 20 Hamas fighters in eastern Rafah while the WAFA news agency said at least one child and numerous civilians have died.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Maritime Trade Operations Agency said it had received reports of two explosions in close proximity to a merchant vessel moving 150-km south of the Yemeni port city of Aden. A Reuters report quoting the master of the ship said all crew on board were and there was no damage to the vessel.

Houthi fighters who are strong supporters of Hamas, have launched repeated drone and missile strikes on shipping in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden that they say, are linked to Israel.

The Houthis have warned that the attacks on shipping will end only after Israel ceases its offensive in the Gaza Strip.