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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Rafah Ground Operation

Israel is expected to expand its ground operation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah by the start of Ramadan if Hamas does not return the remaining hostages held in the enclave by then, Israel's war minister warned. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, will begin around March 10 this year based on the sighting of a new crescent moon.

The warning is the first indication of a timeline for Israel's looming offensive in Rafah, where roughly 1.5 million Palestinians (about 65% of Gaza's population) are sheltering near Egypt's border. More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. At least 100 hostages abducted from Israel Oct. 7 remain in Hamas' captivity. 

Separately, the UN's International Court of Justice began a week of public hearings yesterday over the legality of Israel's role in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and annexed East Jerusalem. The hearings relate to a 2022 request from the UN General Assembly for a nonbinding advisory opinion into Israel's policies and practices in the territories. 

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