Preparation for ground offensive into Rafah completed: Israeli media

An Israeli media report says the country's forces have completed preparation for a ground operation into the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

About 1.2 million people are taking shelter in the city. Israel is poised to launch the operation as part of efforts to completely destroy Hamas despite concerns from other countries.

The major Israeli media outlet Haaretz reported on Thursday that the Israeli military has informed the government about the completion of its preparation. Israeli forces earlier deployed in northern and central parts of Gaza are said to have been moved to the south. The report said the date of the operation will be decided by the government.

The Israeli military continued to carry out airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Health authorities in the enclave said 34,305 people have been killed so far.

The Belgian government said on Thursday that a worker from a Belgian aid organization and the worker's 7-year-old son were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a day earlier.

Haaretz said the ground operation will start after evacuating residents, and that it will take several weeks to move the people in Rafah to other locations.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns about the possible ground offensive in Gaza. Egypt, which has a border with Rafah, has warned that it could cause a catastrophic situation.