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Israel Ramps Up Operations in Gaza

The Israeli military yesterday began its long-planned ground operation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah, where roughly half of the enclave's 2.3 million people have been sheltering (see photos). 

Israel began striking targets in eastern Rafah less than 24 hours after warning roughly 100,000 residents in the area to evacuate. Israel believes Rafah, a city that sits on the shared border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, is the last Hamas stronghold. The US and other allies oppose Israel's ground offensive, partly due to the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Earlier in the day, Hamas announced it had accepted the terms of a cease-fire and hostage-release plan proposed by Egypt and Qatar. Details of the plan have not been made public. Israel is sending a delegation to Cairo to resume indirect talks through mediators and says the two parties remain far apart. 

Separately, Columbia University canceled its main commencement ceremony following weekslong student protests on the Israel-Hamas war.

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