RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces struck the southern Gaza town of Rafah twice overnight, residents said Thursday, sowing fear in one of the last places where civilians could seek refuge after Israel widened its offensive against Hamas to areas already packed with displaced people.
United Nations officials say there are no safe places in Gaza. Heavy fighting in and around the southern city of Khan Younis has displaced tens of thousands of people in a territory where over 80% of the population has already fled their homes, and cut most of Gaza off from deliveries of food, water and other vital aid.
Two months into the war, the grinding offensive has set off renewed alarms internationally, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres using a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” and urging members to demand a cease-fire.
The United States has called on Israel to limit civilian deaths and displacement, saying too many Palestinians were killed when it obliterated much of Gaza City and the north. But it has also pledged unwavering support for Israel and appears likely to block any such U.N. effort to halt the fighting.
Israel says it must crush Hamas' military capabilities and remove it from power following the Oct. 7 attack that ignited the war. Troops have pushed into Khan Younis, Gaza's second-largest city, which Israeli officials have portrayed as Hamas' center…