Israel has come under further pressure with the open threat of a weapons ban from its ally the USA in the event of an invasion of Rafah. US President Joe Biden said in an interview on CNN that his country would not supply the weapons for a comprehensive invasion of the city in the south of the Gaza Strip, which is overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

The US government had already withheld a shipment of ammunition because of Israel’s actions in Rafah. Senior Israeli officials expressed their “deep frustration” and warned that it could jeopardize indirect negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of hostages, two informed sources told the Axios news portal.

Israel continues its fight against Hamas

Meanwhile, Israel’s army continues the fight against the Islamist Hamas in the sealed-off Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said during the night that Hamas positions in the central section of the coastal area were being attacked. Israeli soldiers had also advanced into parts of Rafah on the border with Egypt the night before. According to its own statements, the army took control of the border crossing on the Palestinian side.

“The US said it wanted us to limit the operation, to hold off on a full-scale invasion. And Israel did that and is still being punished,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington, as saying .

Operation in Rafah is intended to force Hamas to negotiate a solution

He described Biden’s threat to halt arms deliveries in the event of an invasion of Rafah as a “preemptive strike” against any Israeli measure to expand operations against Hamas in the city. In recent days and weeks, the US has repeatedly warned Israel’s government against a large-scale ground offensive in Rafah – Biden spoke of a “red line”. The Wall Street Journal quoted Israeli analysts as saying that the operation in Rafah was intended to put pressure on Hamas to accept an agreement that falls short of the terrorist organization’s demands. Hamas continues to insist, among other things, on a withdrawal of Israeli troops, which Israel strictly rejects.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, William Burns, head of the US foreign intelligence agency CIA, returned to Cairo for mediation talks after speaking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel about the status of ceasefire negotiations. The negotiations, in which Egypt, Qatar and the USA are mediating, are to continue in the Egyptian capital, as the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera reported. The aim of the talks is to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Burns travels back and forth between the various negotiation locations to make progress.

The only way to continue negotiations at the moment is to continue attacking, the newspaper quoted a former head of Israel’s National Security Council as saying. “This is our way of getting them to take it seriously.” Hamas, on the other hand, accused Israel of using the negotiations as a pretext for an invasion of Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to “make up excuses to avoid negotiations and shift the blame to Hamas and the mediators,” said Izzat al-Rishk, a member of the Hamas Politburo, in a statement on Telegram.

Biden: Invasion of Rafah would be wrong

According to Netanyahu, the operation in Rafah is aimed at freeing the remaining hostages and destroying the last Hamas battalions in the city. US President Biden made it clear in the CNN interview that the Israeli military had not yet “advanced into the population centers – what they have done is right on the border.”

He made it clear to Netanyahu and his war cabinet that they could not count on US support “if they actually go to these population centers.” It is “simply wrong” – and the USA cannot provide the weapons and artillery for it. According to the United Nations, a total of 1.2 million people are currently in Rafah, more than half of Gaza’s entire population.

Germany has also repeatedly warned Israel not to invade the city because of the many civilians in Rafah. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal quoted analysts as saying that Israel’s army could attack in waves in different parts of the city. The affected civilians should first get to safety.

According to the UN, around 80,000 people have fled the city since the Israeli army advanced into Rafah at the beginning of the week. People are not safe anywhere, warned the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians on X, formerly Twitter. The burden on those affected is unbearable.

On Monday, Israel asked around 100,000 Palestinians to leave the eastern part of Rafah for security reasons. The residents should go to the Al-Mawasi area near the coast, where their supplies of food, water and medicine can be guaranteed.

UN: No aid supplies yet via Kerem Shalom border crossing

The Rafah border crossing remains closed. Together with Kerem Shalom, he is the main bottleneck for aid deliveries to the southern Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s announcement of the opening of Kerem Shalom, no aid has been delivered to the Gaza Strip, according to the United Nations. This was said by spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in New York.

He did not address questions about what was holding up deliveries in detail. There was also no help coming into the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing, where fuel is urgently needed. Kerem Shalom had just reopened after being closed for several days. Israel closed it to humanitarian transport on Sunday after a Hamas rocket attack that killed four Israeli soldiers.

Maternity clinic in Rafah stops accepting patients

Aid organizations have expressed concern that the Israeli military operation in Rafah and the closure of the border crossing there with Egypt could further deteriorate the situation of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. For months they have accused Israel of allowing too few aid deliveries into the contested area.

The most important maternity clinic in Rafah has now stopped admitting new patients, as the administration of the Emirati hospital confirmed to dpa by telephone. The reasons given were the Israeli army’s ongoing attacks on Hamas in the city and the fuel shortage.

Lebanon: Several dead in Israeli attacks in the south

According to Lebanese sources, several people were killed in an Israeli attack in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil Defense announced that four people were killed in the attack on a car in the town of Baflieh in the south of the country. Hezbollah reported the deaths of three of its members. The militia usually does not elaborate on when, where and how its fighters die.

The Israeli military did not want to comment on the incident when asked. However, the army said a 20-year-old soldier was killed in “actions in northern Israel” the day before.

Israel is said to have attacked pro-Iranian targets near Damascus

Meanwhile, Israel attacked targets in Syria again overnight, according to activists and Syrian state media. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a center and training camp run by a pro-Iranian militia from Iraq had been hit. The attack occurred south of the capital Damascus.

There are said to have been further explosions in a town further south. The Syrian news agency Sana also reported on the air strikes, citing military circles. Accordingly, some of the “enemy missiles” were intercepted. The Israeli military did not want to comment on the reports when asked.

US freighter with aid supplies on the way from Cyprus to Gaza

A freighter carrying hundreds of tons of aid for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip has left the Cypriot port of Larnaca. As Cypriot government spokesman Giannis Antoniou said on the radio, the freighter “Sagamore” is transporting urgently needed relief supplies from the USA, Great Britain and Cyprus and will soon arrive in Gaza. “By the time the freighter arrives (in Gaza), the pier that the US is building will also be finished,” he added.

In recent days, the US army had built a large, floating dock off the coast of the Gaza Strip for the delivery of aid supplies. The pier should be completely finished on Thursday and will serve as a hub for the delivery of relief supplies in the future. Until now, there has been no port in Gaza that is deep enough for larger cargo ships.