Israel prepares military operations in Gaza's Rafah

Israeli leaders were preparing Monday for military operations in Gaza's southern city of Rafah, where most of the Palestinian territory's population has fled after six months of fighting.

Talks in Cairo aimed at brokering a truce have made "significant progress", with more negotiations expected in the coming days, Egyptian state-linked outlet Al-Qahera reported Monday.

International pressure has mounted on Israel to bring an end to the war, with its main ally the United States last week demanding a ceasefire and hostage release deal along with ramped-up aid deliveries.

Israel pulled its forces out of the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

But Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said troops had left the city of Khan Yunis "to prepare for future missions, including... in Rafah".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was "one step away from victory".

After troops left areas in and around the largely destroyed Khan Yunis, a stream of displaced Palestinians walked there, hoping to return to their homes from temporary shelters in Rafah, a little further south.

Muhammad Yunis, 51, a Palestinian in northern Gaza, saw nothing but loss.

"Isn't the bombing, death and destruction enough?" he asked. "There are bodies still under the rubble. We can smell the stench."

The war was sparked by the Oct. 7 attack against Israel by Hamas militants that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Hamas took more than 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, 129 of whom remain in Gaza, including 34 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,175 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run...

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