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Israeli forces enter Rafah and take control of border crossing

Israeli forces enter Rafah and take control of border crossing

U.S. halted shipment of weapons to Israel over concerns they would be used in Rafah

The White House last week halted a large shipment of offensive weapons to Israel over concerns that they would be used in Rafah, a senior administration official told NBC News tonight. 

The official said the shipment included 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, and added that the administration is “especially focused” on ending the use of 2,000-pound bombs and the impact they have on dense urban areas in Gaza.  

The official said the administration began reviewing potential shipments of particular weapons to Israel last month, as the Israeli government appeared to be nearing a decision on Rafah. The official said Israel still has not addressed U.S. concerns about a major military operation there.

The State Department is reviewing whether to halt certain other future shipments to Israel, according to the official. No decisions have been made, and no final decision has been made on how to proceed with the shipment that was blocked last week, according to the official. 

Hamas official says there will be no deal if Israel continues aggression on Gaza

Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official speaking from Beirut, warned that Israel’s continued aggression on Gaza will risk chances to secure a hostage release deal as the militant group meets with Israel’s delegation in Cairo.

Hamdan asserted that the reaction yesterday from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders shows “that he does not care about the lives of his prisoners held by the resistance, who are threatened with death daily by their army missiles.” He added that Hamas “dealt with the mediators’ proposal with great flexibility and made calculated concessions.”

Netanyahu said today that Hamas announced its agreement on a deal yesterday knowing the framework it wanted was far from Israel’s requirements for a deal. He said that the group tried to sabotage Israel’s military actions in Rafah but that the country pushed forward regardless.

Hamdan warned that if Israel insists on moving forward with an escalated Rafah operation, it will “be no picnic” for the country. 

U.S. expects Kerem Shalom crossing to reopen tomorrow

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said today that the U.S. expects the Kerem Shalom crossing to be reopened to humanitarian aid for Gaza tomorrow.

The Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel are critical entry points for food, medicine and other supplies for Gaza’s 2.3 million people. They have been closed for at least two days, although the smaller Erez crossing between Israel and northern Gaza continues to operate.

Kerem Shalom was closed after a Hamas mortar attack there killed soldiers. Israeli forces seized Rafah early this morning.

The U.N. warned of a potential collapse of the flow of aid to Palestinians from the closings of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings at a time when officials say northern Gaza is experiencing “full-blown famine.”

Videos show Israeli tanks running over ‘I Heart Gaza’ sign in Rafah

Video circulating online shows a tank running over Gaza signage at the Rafah crossing when troops took over the Palestinian side of the border.

Another video shows a tank driving over a colorful “GAZA” sign that was placed in a flowerbed with two Palestinian flags flying on either side of it. The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the videos.

Though the source of the videos is not clear, NBC News was able to verify that they were recorded at the Rafah crossing through geolocation and cross-referencing videos of the Rafah crossing operation already released by the IDF.

The Times of Israel described the clips as “leaked” videos, noting that IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari has previously asked troops not to record and post their own photos or videos of military actions.

CIA’s Burns headed to Israel to consult on negotiations in Cairo

CIA Director William Burns will go to Israel tomorrow to consult with officials on the latest round of talks in Cairo, a source familiar with the situation said.

Separately, according to a senior administration official, negotiators in Cairo from the U.S., Egypt and Qatar representing Hamas have been trying to resolve disagreements over phasing in a potential cease-fire, among other differences.

The source familiar with the situation said negotiators view the latest Hamas proposal as a unified offer from both the political and the military wings of the militant group. Asked about the chance of an agreement, the senior official said: “It’s positive that they’re still meeting, but it’s too soon to be optimistic. We need them to close their differences, but the differences are minor.”

Burns’ trip to Israel could signal an important step toward testing whether compromises are possible.

About the contentious issue of aid deliveries to Gaza, the senior official said the U.S. expects Netanyahu to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing as soon as tomorrow, which Biden pressed him to do in a phone call yesterday. 

The official said the U.S. also expects Israel to reopen the Rafah crossing, which is critical for deliveries of food, fuel, water and other supplies, as well as being a route for people needing to get out of Gaza for medical care and other emergencies.

State Department report on weapons to Israel won’t be ready by deadline, officials say

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The Biden administration will miss tomorrow’s deadline to submit a highly anticipated report to Congress on whether Israel is using U.S. weapons in accordance with international law, multiple administration officials told NBC News.

The report is delayed by a few days or possibly into next week, the officials said.

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told reporters this afternoon that a delay was possible.

We are trying very hard to meet that deadline,” Miller said. “It’s possible it slips just a little bit, but we’re still, at this point, trying to get it done by tomorrow.”

The report is mandated under a National Security Memo signed by Biden in February that requires the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense to assess whether recipients of U.S. military assistance involved in active combat are using those weapons in line with international law. 

The report will also evaluate whether countries including Israel “the recipient country will facilitate and not arbitrarily deny, restrict, or otherwise impede, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance and United States Government-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance.”

If it is determined that any of those countries is not acting in accordance with international law, the Biden Administration has 45 days to recommend appropriate next steps to “remediate the situation,” including suspending any further transfer of U.S. military assistance.

As of late March, Miller, the State spokesperson, said the U.S. had “not found them to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

Under the memo, the report must be provided to “the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and, upon request, other congressional national security committees as appropriate.”

Hostage families weigh hope for deal with concerns over Rafah  

Relatives of Israeli hostages who remain held in Gaza expressed hope for a deal as Israel dispatched a delegation to talks in Cairo, but some felt their optimism tempered by concerns over the possible impact of the Israeli military’s ground operations in Rafah.

“We must be optimistic,” Rachel Goldberg-Polin said in a phone interview this afternoon. “We certainly think that in this moment, the right thing is that Israel is sending a delegation to Cairo because there is an opportunity here,” said Goldberg-Polin, whose American Israeli son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, remains held in Gaza. But, she said, any deal will inevitably “require compromise on all sides.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a statement that it had appealed to a number of countries to “exert your influence on the Israeli government” and push for an agreement.

Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Carmel Gat is also among the captives, said that he was skeptical of Hamas’ announcement agreeing to a cease-fire proposal but that it was ultimately welcome news. “The fact is they want a deal — and the ball is in Israel’s court,” he said.

Dickmann, who was among thousands of people at a rally in Tel Aviv yesterday calling on the Israeli government to strike a deal with Hamas, said he had concerns that Israel’s ground operations in Rafah might affect negotiations, as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who have been sheltering in the city. “I don’t want to see innocent lives getting hurt on either side of the border,” he said.

Ariel Schalit / AP

Gilad Korngold, whose son, Tal Shoham, 39, is also being held in Gaza after he was taken hostage from the Be’eri kibbutz, said he feared the ground operation might put those held captive at risk. He said those in favor of such an operation should recall the events that unfolded in Khan Younis in December, when Israeli forces mistakenly killed three hostages. “Don’t make any operation that’s going to risk our” loved ones, he said.

Udi Goren, the cousin of Tal Chaimi, 42, who was killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks and whose body remains held in Gaza, said that the operation in Rafah was “worrisome” and that he wanted suffering to end for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Chaimi’s wife was around two months pregnant when he was killed, and last week she delivered their child, whom Chaimi will never get to meet, Goren said. All his family wants now is to give their loved one a proper burial so Chaimi’s newborn son and three other children will have a place to visit their father. Only then, he said, will the family “find some closure.”

University of Chicago clears a pro-Palestinian demonstration as MIT confronts a new encampment

Police cleared a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at the University of Chicago today as tension ratcheted up in standoffs with demonstrators at other college campuses around the U.S. — and increasingly in Europe.

Nearly three weeks into a movement launched by a protest at Columbia University, the Rhode Island School of Design held talks with protesters occupying a building, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dealt with a new encampment on a site that was cleared but immediately retaken by demonstrators.

At the University of Chicago, hundreds of protesters had gathered in an area known as the Quad for at least eight days.

Police in riot gear blocked access to the Quad early today as law enforcement dismantled the encampment. Officers picked up a barricade and moved it toward protesters, some of whom chanted: “Up, up with liberation. Down, down with occupation!” Police and protesters pushed back and forth along the barricade as the officers moved to re-establish control.

“The protesters were given an opportunity to disassemble their structures and depart the encampment, and there have been no arrests,” school President Paul Alivisatos said in a message to the university community. “Where appropriate, disciplinary action will proceed.”

Rafah’s only large hospital ‘out of operation,’ mayor says

The only large-scale hospital in Rafah City is “out of operation,” according to the mayor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Sufi.

Video from Gaza reporter Saleh Al-Jaafrawi offers a glimpse of what’s left inside Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital after a complete evacuation.

The hospital, which, according to its Facebook page, served the 247,000 people of the Rafah Governate, now has empty beds, combed-through cabinets and leftover medical supplies.

Jordan says Israeli settlers attacked aid convoy in northern Gaza

Jordan said Israeli settlers attacked a humanitarian aid convoy on its way to Erez crossing in northern Gaza and “tampered with its contents” in the second such incident in less than a week.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sufyan Qudah said the convoy, which goes through the Israeli-occupied West Bank from Jordan, later managed to continue on its journey and reach its destination in war-devastated Gaza.

“Jordan holds Israel responsible for the attack by extremist settlers. … It constitutes a breach of its legal obligations as an occupying power,” Qudah told Reuters.

IDF says more rockets fired at Kerem Shalom from Rafah area

Six rockets were fired today from Rafah at the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to the IDF, after the commercial crossing was already closed due to prior attacks.

Four IDF soldiers were killed in an attack at Kerem Shalom on Sunday, which Hamas claimed responsibility for. The militant group said it targeted an adjacent military area at the time, not the area where humanitarian aid is controlled.

“The projectiles that were fired toward the area of the Kerem Shalom Crossing are preventing the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

Additionally, the military said its air forces intercepted five projectiles fired from the Rafah area into Israel. Another seven fell into an open area and no one was injured, the IDF said.

Hostage family group announces death of Lior Rudaeff

Lior Rudaeff, 61, was killed during the Oct. 7 attack, and it is believed his body was taken to be held in Gaza, the Hostage Families Forum said in a statement.

The group didn’t provide details, but Rudaeff was believed to be among the hostages for the past seven months. The group also said it was Israel’s “profound moral duty to pursue every avenue in the current negotiations to bring Lior home.”

“Lior Rudaeff, 61, lived a life dedicated to helping others, with a boundless heart and generosity that touched all who knew him,” the statement said. “For four decades, he volunteered as an ambulance driver, always the first to step up and lend a hand to anyone in need.”

According to the Times of Israel, Rudaeff was called to serve on the emergency crew for Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct. 7 and sent a message that he was hurt. Communications with him were lost after he sent his love to his wife, Yaffa, and his four children.

‘There is no safety in Rafah,’ displaced Gazans say

Grieving Palestinian family members and neighbors who witnessed an overnight airstrike on residential buildings in Rafah sifted through the rubble of the mangled buildings today.

“They said this is a safe area, where is safety? There is no safety in Rafah,” said Hilmi Abu Amrah, adding that his sons and sister were receiving medical care for their injuries suffered in the strike.

He said several bodies of slain family members were dismembered from the strike and that he sifted through the rubble for body parts for their burial.

“They were cut into pieces,” he said, holding a blood-soaked bed sheet amid the dilapidated buildings.

A displaced woman from northern Gaza who was sleeping next door when the strike occurred implored the world to stop the war.

“People were happy since sunset. They felt happy when they heard that there would be a truce,” Kifah Juma Salim said, referring to Hamas’ announcement that they accepted terms to a potential ceasefire.

“I wish to kiss the soil of Beit Hanoun,” she said referring to the northern area she is from. “Enough of this devastation, death and destruction of homes.”

Biden condemns antisemitism at Holocaust remembrance ceremony

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden denounced a wave of antisemitic incidents that have broken out since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, assuring Jewish Americans in a speech that they shouldn’t feel isolated and alone as they face down bigotry.

The president also used the address to reaffirm his unswerving commitment to Israel, though he hinted at disagreements with Israeli government leaders whose offensive in Gaza has killed tens of thousands of civilians.

“My commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, to the security of Israel and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad,” he said. “Even when we disagree.”

Speaking at the U.S. Capitol, Biden gave the keynote address for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual commemoration of Germany’s attempt to annihilate European Jews during World War II.

Read the full story here.

Médecins Sans Frontières discharges patients in Rafah, relocates staff to safer area

Médecins Sans Frontières, known as Doctors Without Borders, says it’s relocating staff out of Rafah and discharging patients in the border city after Israeli troops took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

“Given this escalation, MSF has begun to discharge patients from Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital and is suspending its activities at Al-Shaboura Clinic until further notice,” the organization said in a news release.

Staff are being moved out of Emirati Hospital and relocated to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which had already been planned to support maternity care in a safer area.

The organization is also considering establishing two field hospitals in the middle area of the Gaza Strip.

Both humanitarian staff and patients are “terrified,” said Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA. She called on the U.S. government to halt its military and financial support to Israel, warning that the country must uphold its own laws to ensure it “does not contribute to violations of international humanitarian law.”

“Israel must immediately halt plans for this ground invasion,” Benoît said. “A further military escalation in Rafah would be a direct attack on a trapped population. It would crush an already fragile humanitarian response at a time when health and humanitarian needs are soaring.”

Israel and Hamas delegations arrive in Cairo for negotiations

Negotiations for a potential hostage release and cease-fire deal are set to kick off now that parties representing both Hamas and Israel have arrived in Egypt.

An Israeli official told NBC News that the country’s delegation arrived in Cairo. Hamas later put out a statement announcing its own team arrived after traveling in from Qatar.

Hamas announced yesterday that it had agreed to a cease-fire proposal, which immediately sparked hope in Gazans, who told NBC News it was a dream come true.

But Israeli officials say the announcement was an attempt to sabotage Israel’s military plans in Gaza because Hamas agreed to a framework it knew Israel did not support.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a delegation team would be sent to Cairo, though he said the proposal was far from Israel’s requirements for a deal.

Evacuation zones unprepared for Rafah exodus, officials say

Israel’s military ordered the evacuation of about 100,000 people out of eastern Rafah yesterday, with more expected if operations continue, but critics fear there is no infrastructure to hold an influx of civilian refugees in Al Mawasi and Khan Younis.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees, wrote on X that the Israeli military operations are causing “havoc” as many already displaced civilians are forced to flee again and again. He reported that an “average 200 people are leaving Rafah every hour” to the middle areas of Gaza, which have already been ravaged by violence.

“The area of Al-Mawasi is overcrowded with more than 400,000 people,” Lazzarini wrote. “It does not have the facilities to take more people & is not safer than other parts of Gaza.”

Rafah Mayor Dr. Ahmed Al-Sufi said in a statement today that officials had to shut down Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital, and there is no longer a large medical facility in the area to treat people.

“The Al-Mawasi area is not prepared to accommodate a large number of displaced people and there is no ready infrastructure,” Al-Sufi said. “We need a huge number of tents to shelter 1.5 million displaced people.”

Satellite images show Rafah destruction

Satellite images show the difference in just one day of military operations in Rafah as both desertion and destruction can be seen in an overhead view.

Images of the Rafah crossing between Sunday and yesterday, when Israel intensified operations, show that the trucks that were parked at the border are gone.

Rafah crossing on Sunday.Planet
Rafah crossing on Monday.Planet
Rafah on Sunday.Planet
Rafah on Monday.Planet

Other images from eastern Rafah show the damage from airstrikes where what once appeared to be buildings have turned to rubble.

Gallant says Rafah operation will not stop before Hamas is destroyed or hostages return home

Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited troops in Rafah today, where he vowed that military operations in the border city would not stop “until the destruction of Hamas” or the hostages are returned.

“We are willing to make compromises in order to bring back hostages, but if that option is removed, we will go on and deepen the operation — this will happen all over the strip — in the south, in the center and in the north,” Gallant said, according to a news release from his office.

An Israeli official told NBC News that the overnight operation, in which troops took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, was limited to pressure Hamas and was not the full-scale ground invasion that has been threatened in recent months.

Gallant seemed to make this point to soldiers in Rafah when he said that Hamas only responds to force. He went on to say that the military pressure will result in Israel “crushing” Hamas.

Majority of Jewish Israelis believe deal should take priority over military action in Rafah, poll finds

A majority of Jewish Israelis say they see a hostage deal as a higher national priority than military action in Rafah, according to a new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Viterbi Center for Public Opinion.

Asked whether a deal to see hostages held in Gaza released or military action in Rafah should be considered the highest priority in terms of Israeli national interest, more than half, or 56%, of Jewish Israelis agreed that a deal to release the hostages should be the top priority for Israel.

The poll was conducted online and by phone from last Wednesday to Monday. A total of 37% said military action in Rafah should take priority.

Israeli strikes in eastern Rafah today.AFP – Getty Images

Among Arab Israelis, 88.5% said they believed a hostage deal should be the focus, over military action, according to the survey.

A total of 600 people were interviewed in Hebrew and 150 polled in Arabic. The maximum sampling error for the entire polling sample was ±3.65 at a confidence rate of 95%.

Netanyahu calls Hamas cease-fire proposal a ‘sabotage’ attempt

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas’ announcement accepting a cease-fire proposal was an attempt to “sabotage” the Israeli military’s entry into Rafah.

“We have already demonstrated, in the release of previous captives, that military pressure on Hamas is a necessary condition for the return of our captives,” Netanyahu said.

An Arab official told NBC News yesterday that the framework Hamas agreed to includes the release of hostages over six weeks, with an exchange of 33 Palestinians in Israeli prisons per hostage and a complete withdrawal of the Israeli military from Gaza.

Another Arab diplomat told NBC News the framework was based on a deal presented by the U.S., but Israeli representatives were not present during subsequent negotiations.

The Israeli leader said the country’s war Cabinet had “unanimously” agreed the Hamas proposal was far from meeting Israel’s needs, but he instructed a negotiation team to go to Cairo. Netanyahu also praised troops for entering Rafah, calling it an important step in dismantling Hamas.

“Israel cannot accept a proposal that threatens the security of our citizens and the future of our state,” he said.

Here are details of the cease-fire proposal Hamas agreed to

The framework deal Hamas has agreed to outlines a plan to bring “sustainable calm” or the “permanent cessation of military and hostile operations” in Gaza after nearly seven months of fighting.

The proposal, which Israel said was “far from” meeting its demands, includes the eventual release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza, including civilians and Israeli soldiers, and a phased withdrawal of Israeli troops from the enclave.

Israel has previously said it will not agree to a plan that includes the full withdrawal of its troops or a permanent cease-fire to get hostages released.

The plan would be executed in three stages, with the first lasting 42 days and involving the partial withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, allowing internally displaced Palestinians to return to their homes, and the release of about 33 hostages.

Thirty Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel would be released in exchange for each civilian hostage, and 50 others in exchange for each female soldier released by Hamas.

The third and final stage would release the bodies of hostages who died in Hamas’ captivity, and would start a multiyear reconstruction plan under the supervision of countries and organizations, including Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib accuses congressional colleagues of being complicit in ‘genocide’

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat and the only Palestinian American member of Congress, accused her colleagues of enabling “genocide” in Gaza, connecting recent funding Israel to its escalated military operations in Rafah.

She said in a statement that it was “no coincidence” that less than two months after Congress passed a bill that included $14 billion for Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “began a ground invasion of Rafah to continue the genocide of Palestinians — with ammunition and bombs paid for by our tax dollars.”

“For months, Netanyahu made his intent to invade Rafah clear, yet the majority of my colleagues and President Biden sent more weapons to enable the massacre,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib accused Israel’s leaders of never having a feasible plan for protecting civilians during an invasion of Rafah and merely saying they did to “provide cover” to the International Criminal Court. She also urged the ICC to issue warrants against Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters yesterday that the U.S. could not support the Israeli operation in Rafah because the humanitarian plans presented to officials were not credible or implementable.

WASHINGTON — The White House does not believe the overnight action in Rafah was a part of the major military operation Israel had been planning, a U.S. official said. NBC News explains how the Biden administration plans to react to Israel’s move on Rafah.

Aid organizations fear running out of supplies after crossings closed

With both the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings closed, the United Nations and its aid branches worry how to sustain humanitarian aid efforts without the ability to restock supplies.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged Israel’s government to hold off on military escalations as diplomatic negotiations resume. He told reporters today that there is a risk of running out of fuel by the evening with the crossings closed.

“Even the best friends of Israel are clear: An assault on Rafah would be a strategic mistake, a political calamity, and a humanitarian nightmare,” Guterres said.

The World Food Program, a U.N. aid organization, said its current stock of supplies may cover up the needs for Palestinians in Rafah, Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis for up to four days. Sam Rose, planning chief for the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees, told Al Jazeera that UNRWA teams will stay where they are but the future of its operations are unclear.

“The issue is our ability to continue delivering over a sustained duration of time if the crossings remain closed,” Rose said.

NBC News analysis finds one American hostage would qualify for release under Hamas cease-fire proposal

TEL AVIV — In its cease-fire proposal, Hamas has committed to release 33 hostages in the first phase of a deal. They could be alive or dead and would come from the “humanitarian category,” it says.

That includes children and women, both soldiers and civilians, people older than 50, and those with serious medical conditions although it is unclear how Hamas defines that.

An NBC News analysis found there are approximately 51 hostages who would appear to qualify for release in the first phase. Of those, 15 have been confirmed dead by Israeli authorities, though that number is likely higher. 

Only one American hostage appears to clearly meet the criteria for release. Keith Siegel, a 64-year-old civilian, featured in a hostage video released by Hamas late last month. 

Four other American hostages are believed to be alive but all are younger men.  

There are 19 female hostages in Gaza in total, although five have been confirmed dead. That number includes both soldiers and civilians. 

Only two child hostages are left in Gaza: the red-headed Bibas brothers, Ariel, 4, and his 15-month-old sibling, Kfir.  

Hamas said in late November that the boys had been killed in an Israeli airstrike, along with their mother, Shiri Bibas. Israel has not confirmed their deaths. Their father, Yarden Bibas, is also being held hostage.

Police break up pro-Palestinian student protests in Berlin and Amsterdam as demonstrations spread across Europe

Berlin police today broke up a protest by several hundred pro-Palestinian activists who had occupied a courtyard in Berlin’s Free University.

The protesters had put up about 20 tents and formed a human chain around the tents earlier in the day. Police called on the students via loudspeakers to leave the campus.

Earlier, Dutch police arrested about 125 activists as they broke up a pro-Palestinian demonstration camp at the University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam police said on the social media platform X that their action was “necessary to restore order” after protests turned violent. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Students also have held protests or set up camps in Finland, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

Israel’s Rafah operation has ‘choked off’ Gaza aid, U.N. says

The Israeli military operation in Rafah has “choked off” aid to Gaza, the U.N. has said.

With both the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings closed, “currently the two main arteries for getting aid into Gaza have been choked off,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in a news briefing today.

Laerke warned that existing humanitarian stocks in Gaza could only be expected to last no more than a day — and he noted that Rafah is the only entry point for fuel to enter into Gaza and that without it, generators, trucks and communications equipment could not function. “If no fuel comes in for a prolonged period of time, it would be a very effective way of putting the humanitarian operation in its grave,” he said.

An Israeli army tank today along the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel.Menahem Kahana / AFP – Getty Images

Laerke said an OCHA team has been denied access to the Rafah border crossing, which Israeli forces assumed operational control of last night.

“We currently do not have any physical presence at the Rafah crossing as our access to go to that area for coordination purposes has been denied by COGAT,” he said.

CIA chief in Cairo as Israel sends a delegation for cease-fire talks

CIA Director William Burns is in Cairo for the latest round of talks, a U.S. official told NBC News.

An Israeli delegation is headed to the Egyptian capital to discuss a deal after the country’s war Cabinet said the proposal accepted by Hamas was “far from” meeting its demands.

Palestinians continue to flee parts of Rafah

Matt Nighswander

A cease-fire sticking point: Whether the hostages released would be living people or dead

TEL AVIV — One of the key disagreements between Israel and Hamas is whether the 33 hostages released in the first phase of a cease-fire deal would be living or dead, an Israeli official tells NBC News. 

In the text of its proposal, obtained by NBC News, Hamas commits to releasing 33 hostages in the first phase of the deal but says that total can include living people or dead bodies. Israel’s position is that Hamas must release 33 living hostages, the Israeli official said.  

There are also disagreements over how many hostages would be released in each week of the cease-fire, the official says.

Rafah hospitals warn of ‘major health disaster’ as Israel strikes city

Hospitals in Rafah are sounding the alarm of a mounting “major health disaster” amid the IDF’s ground operations and ongoing bombardment of the city.

Dr. Suhaib Al-Hams, director of the Kuwait specialized hospital in Rafah, warned that the medical facility was the “only hospital operating now with minimal capabilities” after Al-Najjar Hospital in eastern Rafah “went out of service due to it being classified within” the Israeli military’s evacuation zone.

He said the Kuwait hospital had received dozens of people killed and injured, with NBC News’ crew on the ground capturing the aftermath of several strikes. In the footage captured over the past two nights, several homes could be seen destroyed, while at the Kuwait hospital, the bodies of people killed, including children, could be seen wrapped in shrouds as family members mourned their loved ones.

Al-Hams said the Kuwait hospital was struggling to keep up with the influx of patients with injuries and he called on any medical teams available to make their way to the facility to help address the “shortage of specialized medical personnel.”

The IDF said it was targeting Hamas with its operation in eastern Rafah, which included aerial strikes and what it said was a limited ground incursion.

Israeli tanks roll into Rafah amid cease-fire uncertainty

Richard EngelNBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Host of MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel”

JERUSALEM — A key sticking point in cease-fire talks is the future of Hamas in Gaza. The terms presented by Hamas strongly suggest that the militant group would remain in power, which is something Israel has said it would never accept.

Government in Muslim-majority Malaysia defends expo featuring Israel weapons suppliers

Officials in Malaysia defended a government-backed defense exhibition after pro-Palestinian protesters demanded the expulsion of companies such as American arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin that supply Israel with weapons.

A handful of demonstrators protested against the companies’ participation in the Defense Services Asia exhibition today in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, local media reported. The government of the Muslim-majority nation has been vocal in its criticism of Israel and protesters said the inclusion of the companies in the exhibition was inconsistent with Malaysia’s support for Palestinian statehood.

In a statement, Defense Minister Khaled Nordin said that while Malaysia opposes all forms of injustice against Palestinians, “Malaysia is a free trade country that allows space for all global industry players to market their products and services in Malaysia.”

The Malaysian public’s opposition to Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip has given rise to consumer boycotts of American restaurant chains such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC, with KFC saying last week that it had temporarily closed some outlets in the country.

Interruption of aid through Rafah crossing will worsen already ‘catastrophic’ situation, UNRWA says

Any “continued interruption” of the entry of aid and fuel supplies through the Rafah crossing will only worsen an already “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in Gaza, a U.N. agency has warned.

The U.N. aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, issued the warning after Israeli ground forces seized control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. It comes after the Kerem Shalom crossing was also closed following an attack Sunday that saw four Israeli soldiers killed.

A continued interruption of the flow of aid at the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza would “halt the critical humanitarian response” across the strip, UNRWA warned. “The catastrophic hunger faced by people especially in northern Gaza will get much worse if these supply routes are interrupted,” it said.

On Sunday, Cindy McCain, head of the U.N. World Food Program, warned in an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” that northern Gaza has already entered “full-blown famine,” with the south at risk of following suit.

Rafah operation could threaten cease-fire, Egypt warns, as Gazans hope for a deal

Hopes were high among Palestinians in Gaza for a deal to bring an end to fighting in the enclave and see hostages released after Israel agreed to send a delegation to talks set to resume in Cairo today.

But as Egypt prepared to host the talks, it signaled that Israel’s military actions in Rafah could imperil the negotiations. Condemning Israeli forces’ ground operation in the city, including its takeover of control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry said the move was a “dangerous escalation.”

“The Arab Republic of Egypt called on the Israeli side to exercise the utmost levels of restraint, and to stay away from a policy of brinkmanship that has long-term impact, and that would threaten the fate of the strenuous efforts made to reach a sustainable truce inside the Gaza Strip,” it said in a statement this morning, also calling on the international community to intervene.

A wounded Palestinian is brought to a hospital in Rafah today.Ismael Abu Dayyah / AP

In Gaza, many Palestinians expressed relief and joy over the Hamas announcement that it had accepted a proposal. One woman told NBC News’ crew on the ground she felt “indescribable” joy. “We are so happy,” Manar Elfara said. “I wish that peace prevails and there will be no more war, God willing.”


In apparent show of dominance, Israel shows troops entering Rafah

Richard EngelNBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Host of MSNBC’s “On Assignment with Richard Engel”

JERUSALEM — In an apparent show of dominance, Israel released images this morning of its troops storming into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, a key transit point for aid into the enclave. 

It came after Israel ordered the evacuation of some 100,000 Palestinians from eastern neighborhoods of Rafah yesterday, saying it was conducting “targeted strikes” against Hamas. 

It gave civilians little time to leave the city which is home to more than 1 million people, many of them displaced from other parts of the enclave. An NBC News crew filmed bombings within hours of the evacuation notice being issued. 

A photo released by the Israeli army shows tanks entering the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing today between Gaza and Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip.Israeli army AFP – Getty Images

Palestinian health officials said more than 20 people were killed in the operation overnight, including children. The bodies today were handed over to their families.

Watch: Video shows Israeli tanks entering the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing

Nikolai Miller

Video released by the Israeli military this morning showed tanks entering the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing as IDF troops took control of the area.

Israeli operation in Rafah is ‘very limited’ and not start of ground offensive, source tells NBC News

TEL AVIV — Israel’s ground incursion into Rafah is “a very limited” operation designed to achieve tactical military goals and put pressure on Hamas in the cease-fire negotiations, an Israeli official tells NBC News.

It is not the start of the large-scale ground offensive that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been threatening for months, the official said. 

Israeli negotiators are heading to Cairo today to try bridge the gaps between the Israeli-approved proposal and the Hamas-approved proposal, the official said. Israel’s war Cabinet will likely convene only after there is an update from the negotiations.

IDF says ‘vast majority’ of people in eastern Rafah have evacuated

The “vast majority” of people ordered to evacuate parts of eastern Rafah have left the area, the Israeli military said this morning after launching what it stressed was a limited ground operation last night in the city, where more than a million Palestinians have taken shelter.

Israeli forces have been targeting “specific” areas based on “precise intelligence,” the IDF said in a briefing this morning. Among those targets has been the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing, which Israeli forces took operational control of last night.

The IDF said it was acting on intelligence indicating the Rafah crossing was being used for “terrorist purposes” after alleging the area around the crossing had been used to launch a mortar attack that saw four Israeli soldiers killed over the weekend. The IDF said that since Israeli forces launched their ground operation, around 20 militants had been killed.

“We have indications, part of it was the shooting two days ago but we have also intelligence indications that the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing and I emphasize the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing was being used for terrorist purposes by Hamas,” the IDF said. The IDF did not immediately provide evidence to support its claims.

Entry of aid through Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings ‘completely stopped’

The movement of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings has “completely stopped,” a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority said this morning.

He said the movement of people through the border crossings had also been halted, including the passage of injured and sick people approved for evacuation from the enclave.

“Closing the Rafah crossing condemns cancer patients and the wounded to death in light of the collapse of the health system in the strip,” he said, comparing any closure of the Rafah crossing to a death sentence for Palestinians. COGAT, Israel’s military liaison with the Palestinians, noted yesterday on its website that thousands of injured and sick people have been evacuated from the enclave.

In a separate statement, the Palestinian Crossings Authority said all employees at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings had withdrawn from their posts before Israeli troops approached. The IDF said this morning that the Kerem Shalom crossing would reopen once security conditions allow.

Photos show Israeli tanks enter Gaza side of Rafah crossing

Max Burman

IDF says its forces have taken control of the Rafah border crossing

Israeli tank forces have taken control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the Israeli Defense Forces said, in what it called a “precise counterterrorism operation.”

“Following intelligence that indicated that the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah was being used for terrorist purposes, IDF troops managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing,” it said in a statement.

The IDF did not provide evidence to immediately support the assertion, though it alleged that the area around the crossing had been used to launch a mortar attack that killed four Israeli troops over the weekend.

It added that ground troops and airstrikes also targeted suspected Hamas positions in Rafah as part of the operation. “IDF ground troops are continuing to operate against Hamas terrorist operatives and infrastructure in the area of the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah,” the IDF said.

The Israeli army had previously warned people in eastern Rafah to evacuate into what it said was an expanded humanitarian zone.

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