The right-wing premier has also been at odds with Israel’s top ally the US, which has objected to his plans to invade Rafah because the city is crowded with about 1.5 million people.

After Netanyahu earlier cancelled an Israeli government delegation’s visit to Washington to discuss the Rafah operation, a meeting is set for Monday via video conference, an Israeli source told AFP.

“There may be a meeting in person later this week,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The bloodiest ever Gaza war erupted when Hamas launched its unprecedented Oct 7 attack which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,782 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Hamas in a statement acknowledged the suffering and “exhaustion” of Gazans because of the war, while vowing to continue fighting until it achieves “victory and freedom” for Palestinians.

The Israeli military said Monday that 600 soldiers had been killed since the start of the war — including 256 in the Gaza ground invasion since late October.

Palestinian militants also seized around 250 hostages. Israel believes about 130 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Israeli police meanwhile said they had arrested the sister of Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, as part of a terror probe, in the southern Israel town of Tel Sheva.

Police told AFP that Sabah Abdel Salam Haniyeh, 57, who is an Israeli citizen, was taken into custody as part investigations also involving Israel’s security agency Shin Bet.

A police spokesman said she is “suspected of having contact with Hamas operatives and identifying with the organisation, while inciting and supporting acts of terrorism in Israel”.


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