Hamas warns Israeli invasion of Rafah will 'torpedo' hostage talks as strikes continue

Hamas warned Israel on Sunday that a ground offensive in Rafah, crowded with displaced Gazans, would imperil future hostage releases, as the Hamas-run territory's health ministry said at least 52 people were killed in heavy air strikes before dawn on Monday.

The strikes hit 14 houses and three mosques in different parts of Rafah, according to the Hamas government.

The Israeli military announced early Monday that two hostages taken by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attacks were rescued in an overnight operation in Rafah.

Foreign governments, including Israel's key ally, the United States, and aid groups, have voiced deep concern over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow to extend operations into the far-southern Gaza city.

Rafah, on the border with Egypt, has remained the last refuge for Palestinians fleeing Israel's relentless bombardment elsewhere in the Gaza Strip in its four-month war against Hamas, triggered by the group's Oct. 7 attack.

"Any attack by the occupation army on the city of Rafah would torpedo the exchange negotiations," a Hamas leader told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Netanyahu has told troops to prepare to enter the city, which now hosts more than half of Gaza's total population, spurring concern about the impact on displaced civilians.

Biden spoke to Netanyahu on the phone Sunday and told him the Gaza advance should not go ahead in the absence of a "credible" plan to ensure "the safety" of people sheltering there, the White House said.

About 1.4 million Palestinians have crowded into Rafah, with many living in tents while food, water, and medicine are becoming increasingly scarce.

Netanyahu had told U.S. broadcaster ABC News the Rafah operation would go ahead until Hamas is...

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