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Israeli defense minister announces plans to step up military activities in Rafah

It is reported that while on the tour, Yoav Gallant was joined by several Navy commanders

TEL AVIV, May 23. /TASS/. Israeli forces will step up activity in Rafah, a city near Gaza’s border with Egypt, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, the Times of Israel reported.

"We are strengthening our effort against Rafah. This operation will go on and increase, more forces on the ground, more forces from the air, and we will reach our goals — to deal a very hard blow to Hamas, to deprive it of its military capabilities, to create the conditions to return the hostages to their homes," he said onboard a patrol boat on a trip to the Gaza coast.

While on the tour, Gallant was joined by several Navy commanders, the Times of Israel reported. Gallant was briefed on "the operational and humanitarian efforts in the maritime arena."

The international community earlier called on Israel to not conduct a full-blown operation in Rafah. The US said the operation would be a mistake, putting civilians in the city in harm’s way and weakening Israeli security. Israel insists that the operation in Rafah is necessary for full victory over Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation in the city will be crucial to the country’s entire campaign in Gaza.