Israel Hamas war: Rafah invasion warnings, alleged tunnels under UNRWA HQ, Lebanon strikes

Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Gaza City, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.
Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Gaza City, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Copyright Mohammed Hajjar/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

Warnings of disaster if Israel invades crowded Rafah

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Israel’s neighbours and key mediators warned on Saturday of catastrophe and repercussions if invades Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. 

Israel previously ordered Palestinians to evacuate to the Egyptian border city, where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are crammed in dire conditions. 

Concerns are rising that Israel's endgame is to push the Palestinians into Egypt - something Israel denies. 

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said any Israeli ground offensive on Rafah would have “disastrous consequences.”

He claimed Israel aims to eventually force the Palestinians out of their land, which Egypt has warned would threaten the four-decade-old peace treaty between the two countries. 

Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions,” plus there's even increasing friction between Netanyahu and the United States, whose officials have said a Rafah invasion with no plan for civilians there would lead to disaster.

“The people in Gaza cannot disappear into thin air," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on X.

Despite mounting criticism, Netanyahu has vowed to go ahead with plans to invade Rafah. On Saturday, the hardline Israeli leader announced he had asked his military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people ahead of an invasion. But he gave no details or timeline.

IDF shows alleged Hamas tunnels under UN headquarters

The Israeli military says it has discovered tunnels underneath the main headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City.

The unveiling of the alleged tunnels marked the latest chapter in Israel's campaign against the embattled agency, which it accuses of collaborating with Hamas.

Recent Israeli allegations that a dozen staff members participated in the Hamas attack on Israel 7 October plunged the agency into a financial crisis, prompting major donor states to suspend their funding as well as twin investigations.

Israel has provided no evidence to back its claims that workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians in the Near East (UNRWA) are Hamas members, its head told The Financial Times last week.

The army invited journalists to view the tunnel on Thursday.

It did not prove definitively that Hamas militants operated in the tunnels underneath the UNWRA facility, but it did show that at least a portion of the tunnel ran underneath the facility's courtyard. 

UNWRA says it had no knowledge of the facilities underground, but the findings merit an “independent inquiry,” which the agency is unable to perform due to the ongoing war.

An Israeli soldier runs down a crater-like hole giving way to a small tunnel entrance into UNRWA compound, where the military discovered tunnels underneath the main headquarte
An Israeli soldier runs down a crater-like hole giving way to a small tunnel entrance into UNRWA compound, where the military discovered tunnels underneath the main headquarteSERGEI GRITS/AP

Israeli attacks continue to spread

An Israeli drone struck a car near Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon on Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding two others, security officials said.

The strike came as tensions across the Middle East grow due to the Israel-Hamas war. 

A drone attack last month killed three US troops in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border, and Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have attacked vessels passing through the Red Sea.

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The drone strike near the coastal town of Jadra took place about 60 kilometres from the Israeli border, making it one of the farthest inside Lebanon since violence erupted.

An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the target of the strike in Sidon was Hamas official Basel Saleh, who was “injured to an unknown extent.” 

The official said Saleh was responsible for enlistment of new Hamas recruits in Gaza and the West Bank.

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