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Netanyahu vows “powerful action” in Rafah while IDF hits Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. Catch up here

From CNN staff

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday reiterated his intention to order concerted military operations in Rafah, vowing that his country will fight “until the absolutely victory.”

Netanyahu said “powerful action” would come in the southern Gazan city after the evacuation of civilians from “battle zones.”

A growing number of world leaders and NGOs have called on Israel to avoid a ground operation in what is now Gaza’s most populated city, with a Red Cross official saying “countless lives are hanging in the balance.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned Israel’s planned ground offensive, saying it would create a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

It comes as the Israeli military said Wednesday that it has struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, as the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff warned of an ongoing offensive against targets in the neighboring country. The strikes follow an earlier deadly rocket attack from Lebanon on a northern Israeli city.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Israeli jets strike Lebanon: One Israeli soldier was killed and eight others wounded Wednesday when a base in northern Israel was targeted by rockets from Lebanon. In response, the IDF struck “Hezbollah terror targets” in the neighboring country. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group that is a regional force in its own right, has not claimed the attack. But Lebanese state media and Hezbollah-owned media reported air raids on several towns in southern Lebanon, including Aadchit, Souaneh and Chehabiya, throughout Wednesday.
  • Appeals to stop ground operation: The leaders of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appealed to Israel not to move forward with a Rafah ground operation. Tedros warned, “I don’t think even hell could describe it…I plead to Israel not to do this.” United Nations special adviser Alice Wairimu Nderitu said the risk of atrocities “is serious, real and high.”
  • Snipers at Nasser medical complex: Doctors and medical staff say Israeli snipers have shot dead a number of people as they fled the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in recent days. “The tanks and the snipers (are) surrounding the hospital from all directions,” a surgeon there said. The IDF confirmed it was operating in the area but did not respond to direct allegations. It has ordered hospital staff and patients inside the medical complex to evacuate, saying it had “opened a secure route” for civilians to leave.
  • US concerned over Gaza aid: A US-funded shipment of flour intended for Gaza has not moved the way it was expected to, raising concerns from the White House, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday. The shipment was blocked by Israeli customs despite Israel’s war cabinet having approved shipments of flour to Gaza via the Ashdod port following a request from US officials.
  • Protection for Palestinians in US: President Joe Biden granted Palestinians in the United States temporary protection from deportation amid the ongoing conflict overseas, according to a new memo. The move comes as the White House faces immense pressure from the Arab-American community over the situation in Gaza.
  • Proposed ceasefire resolution: Arab countries at the United Nations are preparing to introduce a ceasefire resolution in the Security Council, which will also call for unimpeded humanitarian relief and the prevention of any transfer of residents of Gaza to a different location.
  • Cairo talks: Netanyahu said that Hamas must change its negotiating position before talks can continue in the Egyptian capital. Negotiations on a ceasefire as well as hostage and prisoner releases have been ongoing in Cairo and Israel has told mediators they will continue to engage in talks but have so far rejected a counterproposal made by Hamas that demanded a large release of Palestinian prisoners.

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