Israeli defense minister says troops will reach Rafah in southern Gaza

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says the country's military will target southern Gaza's Rafah, where the last remaining Hamas stronghold is located.

Gallant said on Monday that the offensive will eventually reach places in central and southern Gaza where the Israeli forces have not yet fought.

Health authorities in Gaza said that as of Monday, the death toll in the conflict had reached 27,478.

Over 1 million Palestinians have reportedly escaped the Israeli attacks in the north and are taking shelter in Rafah. There are concerns that the number of victims may increase further if Israeli forces conduct a ground offensive there.

The head of the Gaza office of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Thomas White, said on social media on Monday that a food convoy, awaiting entry into northern Gaza, was hit by Israeli gunfire.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt. The Arab country is mediating a deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of hostages and a ceasefire. Blinken plans to visit Qatar next.

Media reports say negotiations have stalled in recent days after making progress since late January.