Israeli tanks move further into Rafah center despite global backlash

Israeli tanks in Rafah

Israeli tanks in Rafah

Photo: Associated Press

Israeli tanks advanced into the center of Rafah for the first time on Tuesday, witnesses said, three weeks after the launch of a ground offensive in the southernmost Gaza city that has sparked a global reaction due to the killing of civilians.

Meanwhile, fresh attacks in Rafah on Tuesday left 21 Palestinians dead, while residents reported escalating fighting in the city.

Tanks and armored vehicles equipped with machine guns were seen near the Al-Awda mosque, an area in central Rafah, witnesses told Reuters. The Israeli army has said that its forces have continued to operate in the Rafah area, without mentioning going deeper into its center.

Overnight, Israeli forces fired rockets into the city, residents said, pushing the offensive further, despite backlash after Sunday's attack on a camp that left at least 45 Palestinians dead, more than half of them children. , women and the elderly. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday three European countries, Spain, Ireland and Norway recognized the Palestinian state.

The three countries said they hoped their decision would speed up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel's war against Hamas militants, now in its eighth month, which has left much of the populated territory in ruins. dense.

Residents said Rafah's Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, the scene of Sunday's overnight strike, in which tents and shelters were burned as families prepared to sleep, was still being bombed.

About a million people - many displaced repeatedly by shifting waves of war - have fled the Israeli offensive in Rafah since the beginning of May, the UN's Palestinian refugee agency (UNRA) announced on Tuesday.