Army says troops found weapons in baby's crib in Rafah

Biden: PM heeded warning against major Rafah offensive, scaling down IDF ops there

US president stresses need for ceasefire in interview, as IDF presses assault in central and southern Gaza, completes capture of Philadelphi Corridor along Gaza-Egypt border

Troops of the Nahal Brigade operate in southern Gaza's Rafah, in a handout photo published June 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops of the Nahal Brigade operate in southern Gaza's Rafah, in a handout photo published June 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

US President Joe Biden said Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has listened to his warnings against conducting a major military offensive in Rafah, tailoring the Israel Defense Force’s plans to a more targeted operation.

Biden’s comments came as the IDF pressed its operations throughout Gaza, raiding Bureij and Deir al-Balah in the center of the Strip, and pressing deeper into Rafah in the south, killing dozens of terrorists and locating tunnels.

Asked in an interview with ABC News whether he thinks Netanyahu is listening to him, Biden responded, “I think he’s listening to me.”

“They were going to go into Rafah full bore — invade all of Rafah, go into the city, take it out, move with full force. They haven’t done that,” Biden said.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have insisted that the IDF operate in Rafah to eliminate the remaining Hamas battalions held up in the city, resisting international pressure against such an incursion.

Asked whether he thinks Netanyahu will stick by the hostage deal proposal Israel submitted last week, Biden said, “He’s publicly said he is. Our European friends are in on it. We have to get a ceasefire.”

“What [Israel has] done is they’ve agreed to a significant agreement that if in fact Hamas accepts it…” he began before adding that the offer is being backed by much of the Arab world.

“We’ll see. This is a very difficult time,” Biden said.

The proposal envisions a six-week truce in its first phase during which the remaining living female, elderly and sick hostages will be released. Also during this first phase, the parties are to hold talks on a permanent ceasefire.

One clause specifies that the phase one ceasefire can extend beyond the initially allotted six weeks if the negotiations for a permanent ceasefire are still taking place in good faith. The clause was kept vague in a manner that mediators hoped would satisfy both sides enough to at least get them to agree to phase one of the deal.

Israel is awaiting Hamas’s official response to its most recent offer for a deal, though indications by the terror group suggest it will decline the offer.

IDF troops are seen operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo cleared for publication on June 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops find weapons in baby crib

The IDF said Friday it has killed dozens of terror operatives amid an ongoing operation in east Buriej and east Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

The operation began earlier this week and is being carried out by the 98th Division.

Troops located tunnel shafts and demolished infrastructure used by terror groups in the area, the IDF said.

The head of a Hamas rocket-launching cell was also killed in an airstrike in the central Gaza area, the IDF added.

An assault rifle found in a crib in a home in southern Gaza’s Rafah, in a handout image published June 6, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In central Gaza, Palestinian medics said at least 15 people died overnight in Israeli assaults.

The IDF also continued its offensive in southern Gaza’s Rafah, where it said troops of the 162nd Division located additional tunnel shafts and weapons over the past day.

The military said it has engaged in close-quarters combat with terrorists above and below ground. In one of the raids in recent weeks, it found arms in a baby’s cradle.

Separately, troops destroyed a number of tunnel shafts, with some built under residential buildings and concealing large amounts of weapons.

The military also continued to operate in the Netzarim Corridor in central Gaza, with the Paratroopers Brigade being deployed to the area, joining the 99th Division.

IDF tanks said to reach coast of Rafah

The Israeli military reached the coast of southern Gaza’s Rafah, completing its control over the so-called Philadelphi Corridor, according to a report on Friday by the London-based, Qatar-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed outlet.

The IDF announced last week that it had established “operational control” over the entire route along the Gaza-Egypt border. It said at the time that troops were physically located in most of the corridor, and that there was a small section near the coast where ground forces were not present, but it controlled the area with surveillance and firepower.

The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed report came hours after residents said armored forces that have taken further control along Rafah’s borderline made several raids into the center and west of the city, wounding several civilians who had been trapped inside their homes and were taken by surprise.

Palestinian health officials said two Palestinians were killed and several wounded in western Rafah from tank shelling there.

Some residents said tanks were newly present in Al-Izba, an area of far southwest Rafah close to the Mediterranean coast.

“I think the occupation forces are trying to reach the beach area of Rafah. The raids and the bombing overnight were tactical, they entered under heavy fire and then retreated,” one Palestinian resident told Reuters via a chat app.

“It was one of the worst nights, some people were wounded inside their homes, before being evacuated this morning.”

IDF troops are seen operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo cleared for publication on June 7, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also on Friday, incoming rocket warnings were activated in the Gaza border communities of Magen and Ein Habesor. The Eshkol Regional Council said it found one rocket had landed in an open area.

No injuries or damage were reported.

War erupted following the devastating Hamas onslaught on October 7, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far. Of these, some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals or through self-reporting by families, with the rest of the figure based on Hamas “media sources.” The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and ninety-five soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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