Israel bombards Rafah ahead of talks aimed at sealing truce

Israel carried out strikes on the Gazan city of Rafah overnight as it sought to put "pressure" on Hamas ahead of talks in Egypt on Tuesday aimed at sealing a truce proposal endorsed by the group.

The Israeli army said it took "operational control" of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday and that troops were scanning the area.

"Last night, IDF (army) troops managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of (Rafah) crossing," the military said.

"Right now, at the moment what's happening, we have operational control over the Gazan side of Rafah crossing, and we have special forces scanning the area to find additional terror infrastructure or terrorists," the military said.

"We are only talking about the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing."

After having vowed for weeks to push into the southern border town, Israel called on Monday for Palestinians in eastern Rafah to leave for an "expanded humanitarian area" ahead of a ground incursion.

An AFP correspondent in the city reported heavy bombardment throughout the night, while the Kuwaiti hospital there said Tuesday in an updated toll that 11 people had been killed and dozens of others injured in Israeli strikes.

After talks earlier in the day failed to produce an agreement, Hamas said Monday evening that it had informed mediators Egypt and Qatar of its "approval of their proposal regarding a ceasefire" in the seven-month-old war, prompting cheering crowds to take to the streets of Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the proposal "is far from Israel's essential demands", but the government would send negotiators for talks "to exhaust the potential for arriving at an agreement".

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