Israeli tanks rolled into the western part of Rafah on Thursday as the city came under intense helicopter, drone and artillery fire in what residents described as one of the worst bombardments of the area so far.

The assault on Rafah has driven out more than a million Palestinians who had been sheltering there, forcing them into areas with little or no access to food, water or shelter. The UN has warned that more than a million people are expected to “face death and starvation by the middle of July”.

Joe Biden had warned he would cut off the supply of US weapons if Israel went ahead with an attack on Rafah, in part because of the lack of an adequate humanitarian plan for all the civilians who would be displaced, but the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his war cabinet launched the attack anyway over a month ago.

The Biden administration has yet to slow the flow of arms in response, arguing that Israel had yet to carry out “major operations”.

People living in Rafah described the level of fighting as devastating, however.

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