Israeli forces take control of Rafah Crossing area on Gaza side, IDF says

The IDF confirmed Tuesday that it has gained operational control of the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing. The IDF released a statement saying its forces began a “precise counterterrorism operation” in eastern Rafah. Acting upon intelligence showing the area was being used for “terrorist purposes,” IDF troops obtained operational control of the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing, the statement said. Intelligence gathered by the IDF and the Israel Securities Authority prompted the operation aimed at killing Hamas terrorists and dismantling “Hamas terrorist infrastructure within specific areas of eastern Rafah.” Before the operation, the IDF urged residents in eastern Rafah to temporarily evacuate to the where the IDF facilitated the expansion of field hospitals and tents, and increased water, food and medical supplies. International organizations working in the area were also encouraged to temporarily evacuate before the operation began. “Following intelligence that indicated that the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah was being used for terrorist purposes, IDF troops managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing,” the IDF said. “On Sunday, mortars were fired from the area of the Rafah Crossing toward the area of the Kerem Shalom Crossing.” Four IDF soldiers were killed during the operation and several others were injured after the mortars were fired. “Furthermore, as part of the operational activity, IDF ground troops and [Israeli Air Force] fighter jets struck and eliminated Hamas terror targets in the Rafah area, including military structures, underground infrastructure, and additional terrorist infrastructure from which Hamas operated in the Rafah area,” the IDF said. Since the operation began, and three operational tunnel shafts have been found. No injuries were reported, the IDF said. The IDF said ground troops are “continuing to operate against Hamas terrorist operatives and infrastructure in the area of the Rafah Crossing in eastern Rafah.” There is no timeline for how long the operation will last and it is unclear if the crossing is open for humanitarian aid.’ Yonat Friling contributed to this report.