Netanyahu dismisses Hamas demand for ceasefire, orders troops to southern Gaza


Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said this week that the army would “reach places where we have not yet fought … right up to the last Hamas bastion, which is Rafah”.

The Israeli army has pushed steadily south through the coastal territory, with the heaviest combat raging in the city of Khan Younis in recent weeks.

The military said it had found and destroyed a tunnel in the city that had been used by senior Hamas leaders to hold hostages.

Soldiers unearthed what it said was a “strategic underground tunnel” stretching more than one kilometre  “under the heart of a civilian area”.

“This tunnel held approximately 12 hostages at different times; three of them have been returned to Israel, and the rest are still being held in Gaza,” the army said.

Amid the Gaza war, Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched attacks in support of Hamas, and Israel, the United States and its allies have launched strikes on them.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have targeted what they say are Israel-linked ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, disrupting global trade and prompting reprisals by US and British forces.

Last week, the United States also carried out strikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria and Iraq, killing dozens in retaliation for an attack that killed three US troops in Jordan.

Israel has also traded deadly cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and has repeatedly bombed Iran-linked targets in Syria. Lebanese state media said the latest Israeli strikes on Wednesday killed one civilian.

Israel’s military on Wednesday proposed increasing the country’s mandatory enlistment and reserve service commitments “in light of the war’s challenges”.

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