israel strikes rafah as negotiators try to revive gaza cease fire talks

A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that the Israeli military was preparing to move into Rafah, airstrikes there killed and wounded multiple people.

Israeli airstrikes hit a southern Gaza border city crowded with civilians on Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced a cease-fire proposal by Hamas and signaled that the Israeli military was preparing to move into the area.

The strikes on two houses in Rafah killed and injured multiple people, according to Palestinian news outlets, and heightened fears among the more than one million Palestinians who have sought refuge in the city as Israel’s army has repeatedly warned that it plans to push farther south in its ground invasion.

“There is no place for the people to run to,” said Fathi Abu Snema, a 45-year-old father of five who has been living in a United Nations-run school in Rafah for nearly four months. “Everyone from all other parts of Gaza ended up in Rafah. I don’t know where to go.”

The strikes came a day after Mr. Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal that called for Israel to withdraw from Gaza, abide by a long-term cease-fire and free Palestinians held in Israeli jails in exchange for the release of remaining Israelis who were kidnapped during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

Mr. Netanyahu said that Hamas’s demands were “ludicrous” and that accepting them would only invite further attacks on Israel. Asserting that there was “no solution besides total victory,” he said the military had been ordered to prepare to move into Rafah, on Egypt’s border, which he called one of “Hamas’s last remaining strongholds.”

At a news conference in Washington on Thursday, Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, raised concerns about the prospect of an Israeli military incursion into Rafah. “We have yet to see any evidence of serious planning for such an operation,” he said.

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