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Israeli tanks advanced further into Rafah Tuesday as part of an expanding military operation in the southern Gazan city, an escalation that comes amid growing international condemnation of Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas since the two sides began fighting in October, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Palestinian witnesses said tanks passed near one of the city’s landmarks, while Israeli media noted that the military added another brigade to the five already operating in Rafah, engaging in close-quarter combat with Hamas.

The development comes two days after an airstrike in Rafah killed at least 45 civilians, including women and children, according to Palestinian officials in the city. Israeli military representatives claimed the strike targeted two Hamas officials but civilian casualties occurred when a nearby tent encampment caught on fire.

While the Israeli military defended the strike, the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the civilian deaths a “tragic mistake.”

The airstrike follows months of fighting in the Gaza Strip: Israel began a military campaign in the Palestinian enclave after Hamas and its allies launched a brutal attack in the country’s south on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and kidnapping more than 240 others.

Israel aims to dismantle Hamas’s military infrastructure and disrupt smuggling networks from Egypt, but it has also faced international pressure to do more to protect civilians and allow in humanitarian aid.

Sunday’s strike underscored Israel’s challenge of balancing military objectives while facing international pressure and condemnation.

The recent military actions came days after the International Court of Justice demanded that Israel halt operations in Rafah.

Analysts told the Journal that the strike “further isolates Israel, further turns countries against Israel.”

Amid the tensions, Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognized the Palestinian state Tuesday, the Associated Press wrote. The recognition is seen as part of an effort to pressure Israel to soften its response to the October attack, while some observers said it will also coax other European Union nations, such as France and Germany, to recognize Palestine.

Israel criticized the move by the three European countries, countering that it would not impact the war in Gaza.

Even so, the fallout from the Gaza war is also impacting Israel’s relations with neighboring Egypt: On Monday, Israeli and Egyptian forces engaged in a rare cross-border clash that left an Egyptian officer dead.

Despite ongoing fighting, mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the US are continuing their efforts to restart ceasefire talks. Negotiators propose a six-week truce, potentially followed by a year-long ceasefire and a phased Israeli withdrawal, contingent on Hamas’s engagement in talks.

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