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Israel has rejected a ceasefire proposal accepted by Hamas and announced it is pushing ahead with an assault on the town of Rafah in southern Gaza.

The Israeli military said it was conducting “targeted strikes” against Hamas in the east of the city, which is the group’s final stronghold in Gaza.

Soon after Israeli tanks entered Rafah and advanced as close as 200m from Rafah’s crossing with Egypt, the Associated Press reported, citing an Egyptian official who said the operation appeared to be limited in scope.

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‘There is not a deal, there is no acceptance’

Hamas had said its chief, Ismail Haniyeh, had informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators the group had accepted their proposal for a ceasefire, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the truce proposal falls short of its demands.

However, it added Israel would send a delegation to meet negotiators today in order to try to reach an agreement.

Qatar’s foreign ministry said its delegation will head to Egypt’s capital Cairo to continue indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Egypt and Qatar have been mediating talks between Hamas and Israel for months.

Thousands of Israelis protested around the country calling for an immediate agreement. In Jerusalem, around a hundred marched towards Mr Netanyahu’s home with a banner reading: “The blood is on your hands.”

An Israeli official described the Hamas announcement as “a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal”.

Aid groups have warned an attack on Rafah would be disastrous for the 1.4 million Palestinians who have fled there.

Analysis: Peace in Gaza looks as distant as ever

Palestinians in Rafah cheer after Hamas announced it had accepted a ceasefire proposal. Pic: Reuters
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Palestinians cheer after Hamas announced it had accepted a ceasefire proposal. Pic: Reuters

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People in Rafah react to IDF evacuation warning

Five killed in airstrikes

Israeli airstrikes killed at least five people in the city last night, including a child and a woman, hospital officials said.

On Sunday Hamas fighters near the Rafah crossing fired mortars into southern Israel and killed four Israeli soldiers.

Israeli leaflets, texts and radio broadcasts ordered Palestinians to evacuate the eastern neighbourhoods of Rafah, warning an attack was imminent and cautioning that anyone who stays “puts themselves and their family members in danger”.

Palestinians fleeing Rafah. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Pic: Reuters

Palestinians flee Rafah after the Israeli army ordered them to evacuate. Pic: AP
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Palestinians fleeing Rafah. Pic: AP

Israel and Hamas urged to ‘go the extra mile’

US President Joe Biden has spoken with Mr Netanyahu and reiterated US concerns about an invasion of Rafah, while UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged Israel and Hamas “to go the extra mile needed to make an agreement”, his spokesperson said.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed during the war, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza – though the tally does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

The UN has warned the enclave is on the brink of famine.

The war began when Hamas militants stormed across the border into Israel on 7 October, killing around 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages, of whom 133 are believed to still be in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

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Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has directly called on his US and Chinese counterparts to join his latest summit for peace in Ukraine.

Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy announced a “global peace summit”, co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June.

He claimed 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance.

But he said: “I am appealing to the global leaders of the world who are still outside the global efforts of the global peace summit.

“To President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China, we do not want the UN charter to be burned.

“Please show your leadership in advancing the peace.”

Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

He added that it must be “real peace – not just a pause in the strikes” after various ceasefire breaches by the Russians.

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Finally, he urged: “The efforts of the global majority are the best guarantee that all commitments will be fulfilled.”

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Shopping mall hit by strike in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Printworks and shopping centre targeted this week

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, with a pre-war population of 1.5 million people, is close to the frontline, and has been consistently targeted since the initial invasion in February 2022.

On Thursday, its ‘Vivat’ printworks, which is the country’s largest, was hit by missiles, killing seven people, and destroying an estimated 50,000 books. A further 21 people were injured, Ukrainian officials said.

On Saturday, a strike on a shopping centre killed six people, injured 40, and left a further 16 unaccounted for, local authorities said.

Elsewhere in the city, an additional 11 people were injured as a result of strikes, including a 13-year-old boy.

Just over the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional governor there said four residents died as a result of Ukrainian attacks on Saturday.

Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters
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Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

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Crowded DIY stores hit by strikes
Ukrainians training without firing due to shortages
Putin thanks Xi for his Ukraine efforts

Mr Zelenskyy warned a new Russian offensive is being planned northwest of Kharkiv.

Ukrainians and military analysts have repeatedly warned of depleting weapon supplies on the frontline.

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Earlier this month the US agreed to a further $2bn (£1.6bn) in military support for Ukraine.

It has consistently resisted calls to send US troops there, in line with NATO’s refusal for direct involvement in the conflict.

China has resisted calls by NATO and its member states to take a direct stance against Russia in support of Ukraine.

President Xi hosted Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a show of “friendship” earlier this month.

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

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Hamas launches first rocket attack on Israel from Gaza in months

Hamas has launched rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza for the first time in months.

The barrage of rockets set off air raid sirens in cities as far away as Tel Aviv.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January, although Palestinian militants have continued to sporadically fire rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border since then.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion.

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after ‘chain of explosions’

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India: Newborn babies killed in fire at hospital in Delhi after 'chain of explosions'

At least six newborn babies have died after a fire broke out at a children’s hospital in India, according to reports.

Firefighters said they carried 12 newborns out of the centre in the Vivek Vihar district of east New Delhi late on Saturday night, but five of them died due to smoke inhalation.

Two other infants are believed to have already died, according to local media. There are differing reports as to whether six or seven infants have been killed so far.

Another five survived and are being treated in a nearby hospital, Delhi fire department chief Atul Garg said.

The blaze, which broke out on the first floor of the hospital, was put out after about an hour.

Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of a baby care center in New Delhi, India, Sunday, May 26, 2024. A fire broke out in the care center on Saturday night killing six infants, a fire service officer said on Sunday. (AP Photo/Dinesh Joshi)
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Burnt registration cards lie on the floor of the hospital. Pic: AP

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Mr Garg told the ANI news agency that an oxygen cylinder blast was the likely cause of the fire, but there has been no official confirmation.

“It was a very tough operation,” he was quoted as saying by India Today.

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“We made two teams. One team started firefighting because there was a blast of cylinders. We can say it was a chain of blasts of cylinders.

“We had to save ourselves also. We started rescue operations for babies as well. Unfortunately, we could not save all the children… That is a regrettable incident.”

The owner of the baby hospital has fled, according to Delhi police.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, called the fire “heartbreaking”, adding that the “causes of the incident are being investigated and whoever is responsible for this negligence will not be spared”.

Machines move the debris following a fire in a gaming zone in Rajkot, in the western state of Gujarat, India, May 26, 2024. REUTERS/Amit Dave
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Machines move debris after a fire in Rajkot. Pic: Reuters

Earlier on Saturday, at least 27 people were killed in a fire at a crowded amusement park in the city of Rajkot in Gujarat state in western India.

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