Israel’s Prime Minister Orders Troops to Prepare Ground Entry, Causing Panic in Hemmed-In Rafah | Latest Updates on Gaza Conflict

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern that a ground invasion of Rafah would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation and have far-reaching regional consequences. Panic is escalating in Rafah as Israel’s Prime Minister instructed the military to prepare for an imminent ground invasion, rejecting Hamas’s truce proposal and dismissing US efforts to broker a deal. Talks for a truce with Hamas were set to commence in Egypt, as Israel vowed to continue the war until achieving “total victory” over the Palestinian group.

Israel’s Prime Minister emphasized that there is no alternative but to pursue an “absolute victory” and the operation would continue for months. Overnight Israeli air strikes killed 14 people in Rafah, including five children. Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reported a surge in attacks from air, land, and sea in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that there is still room for a potential agreement and was scheduled to meet with Israel’s war cabinet members to discuss the release of captives held in Gaza. The ongoing conflict is reaching a critical phase, with efforts underway to secure an agreement between Israel and Hamas. However, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in March is adding political pressure on leaders in the region, and continued Israeli attacks could jeopardize the chances of reaching a deal.

Hamas proposed a three-phase plan for a truce over four and a half months, including the release of captives and an end to the war. Blinken acknowledged some challenges in Hamas’s response but expressed determination to work towards reaching an agreement. Despite his efforts, there was a significant gap between Israel and Hamas, leaving Blinken to return to Washington without a deal.

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