The Israeli army says it has destroyed tunnels and other military facilities during its advance east of the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. An undisclosed number of enemies were killed in fighting and more than 100 targets were attacked from the air throughout the Gaza Strip.

The army said on Wednesday that there were “precise” attacks in “certain areas” in eastern Rafah. After Israeli units advanced towards Rafah on Tuesday night, it was feared that this was the beginning of a major offensive on the city, where up to 1.5 million internally displaced people are said to be staying.

The Israeli military called on residents of the eastern part of Rafah to leave the area on Monday. It was unclear how many people have complied with this request so far. A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNRWA told the German Press Agency that an average of 200 people had been making their way to Khan Yunis and other areas every hour since Monday. However, a senior UNRWA employee spoke on the US broadcaster CNN on Wednesday of around 50,000 people who had left Rafah since Monday.

Israel’s western partners, especially the USA, have urgently warned the Israeli government against military action in Rafah because of the dramatic humanitarian consequences. According to US media reports, the USA is already delaying the delivery of further ammunition to Israel for this reason. Israel wants to completely destroy Hamas after the massacres in Israel on October 7, whose leaders it suspects are in tunnels under Rafah, where Israeli hostages are probably being held for their protection.

According to Israeli media reports, CIA Director William Burns arrived in Israel on Wednesday and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It should be about the status of negotiations about an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners and a ceasefire in the Gaza war. Egypt, Qatar and the USA are mediating in the indirect talks, which were to continue on Wednesday in Cairo.