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UN chief to visit Gaza border as Israel vows Rafah attack

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to visit Egypt's border with Gaza on Saturday, after Israel vowed to send its troops to fight Hamas in the nearby city of Rafah, even without United States support.

During his visit, Guterres plans to reiterate his call for a humanitarian ceasefire, though renewed international pressure has so far failed to dissuade Israel from the planned ground offensive in Rafah, where most of Gaza's population has taken shelter.

Despite warnings that such an operation would cause mass civilian casualties and worsen the humanitarian crisis gripping the territory, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will press ahead with the attack.

"I hope to do that with the support of the United States, but if we need to, we will do it alone," Netanyahu told visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday.

International efforts to pause the almost six months of fighting have intensified, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reporting 32,070 people killed in the Palestinian territory as of Friday and multiple UN warnings of imminent famine.

"This is a man-made catastrophe," the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, wrote on social media platform X. He added that a ceasefire and "flooding Gaza with food + lifesaving goods" was the only solution.

The latest bid for a Security Council resolution on an "immediate" ceasefire failed on Friday as China and Russia vetoed the American proposal, which Arab governments complained was too weak.

Diplomatic sources said that a vote on a new, tougher ceasefire text, initially planned for Saturday, would be postponed until Monday to allow for further discussions.

While diplomats talked, violence continued particularly around Gaza's largest hospital complex, Al-Shifa, where Israeli forces on Friday said they had killed more than 150 Palestinian fighters and arrested hundreds of suspects during a days-long military operation.

The Gaza health ministry reported, in a preliminary tally early Saturday morning, another 67 people killed overnight, including 10 in a strike on a home north of Gaza City.

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