Israeli tanks move deeper into Rafah

Israeli tanks have moved deeper into Rafah, reaching some residential areas of the southern Gaza border town where more than a million people have sought refuge.

Israeli forces shelled the northern part of the enclave in some of the fiercest attacks in months.

Israel's international allies and aid groups have repeatedly spoken out against a ground incursion into Rafah, where many Palestinians have fled and where Israel says four Hamas battalions are hiding. Israel says it must destroy the remaining militants.

The White House says U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this weekend. The Biden administration declined to comment on an Axios report that Israel had agreed not to significantly expand its Rafah operation ahead of Sullivan's visit.

A U.S. official, who declined to be identified, said Israel had promised not to take major steps in Rafah without notifying Washington.

Israeli spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that since the operation began a week ago, Israeli forces have killed about 100 militants, found 10 tunnels and many weapons in Rafah.

In recent days, fighting has intensified elsewhere in Gaza, including in the north, with the Israeli military returning to areas where it claimed to have already eliminated Hamas. The May 14 clashes were the fiercest in months, residents and Hamas sources said.

"We are acting decisively in all three parts of Gaza. Forces by air, land and sea are striking terrorist targets simultaneously," Hagari said, referring to the northern, central and southern parts of the enclave.

The number of Palestinians killed in the war has now topped 35,000, according to Gaza health authorities, whose figures do not distinguish between civilians and Hamas militants. They reported that 82 Palestinians have died in the past 24 hours, the highest number killed in a single day in many weeks.  / BGNES