US officials express concerns over Israel's continuing attacks on Rafah

Israel continues its assaults on Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, while concerns are mounting even from its ally, the United States, about the possible expansion of its ground operation in the city.

Israeli forces have also resumed attacks on northern Gaza that they had once declared under their control, saying they have detected movements by Hamas to regroup there.

A local Palestinian media outlet reported on Monday that four people had been killed by an Israeli airstrike on Rafah.

Health officials in Gaza said on Sunday that the death toll had risen to 35,034 since the conflict began in October.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, said on Monday that nearly 360,000 people have fled Rafah. It added that there is no safety without a ceasefire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday over the phone. The State Department said Blinken reaffirmed US opposition to a major military ground operation in Rafah. He underscored the urgent need to protect civilians and to ensure humanitarian assistance.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan separately held phone talks with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi. Sullivan reiterated US concerns over the potential for a major military ground operation into Rafah and discussed alternative measures.