Hamas says that any Israeli ground attack in Rafah would “blow up” the hostage exchange talks

(Reuters) – The Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying on Sunday that any Israeli ground attack on Rafah on the Gaza border would “blow up” hostage exchange negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuThe Hamas office said it ordered the army to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions that it says are deployed there.

Most of the displaced took refuge in Rafah on the border with Egypt, but after fruitless ceasefire talks, Netanyahu said this week that Israeli forces would continue fighting until “complete victory.”

The Israeli military had ordered civilians to flee south before previous attacks on Gaza cities, but now there is no clear place to go, and relief agencies have said many people may die.

The conflict in Gaza began on October 7 when Hamas militants stormed border defenses to attack Israeli towns, killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking about 250 hostages to Gaza, according to Israeli statistics.

Israel responded with massive bombardment and a ground offensive that killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to medical authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

(Reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Editing by Eileen Hardcastle)

(Tags for translation) Rafah

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