ISRAEL has confirmed plans for a military operation inside Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city where more than one million Palestinians are thought to be sheltering.

On Friday afternoon the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed he had approved plans for a military operation in Rafah, and that the army was preparing to evacuate civilians.

Israel has previously said that Rafah remains the last major stronghold in Gaza, that an offensive there is necessary to achieve their war’s goals, and that it is “not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’”.

An estimated 1.5 million people are sheltering in Rafah after fleeing from other parts of Gaza, as Israel has increased its military offensive in the strip, killing more than 31,000 people.

It comes as Netanyahu (below) rejected Hamas’s latest proposals for a ceasefire as “absurd” and “unrealistic”, although talks for a new deal are supposedly still underway.

The National: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

The Gazan government said at least 56 people had been killed and more than 300 injured in Israeli attacks on aid centres in the last 48 hours.

“We hold the US administration and the international community, in addition to the ‘Israeli’ occupation, fully responsible for the crime of genocide,” the government’s media office said in a statement published on Telegram.

READ MORE: National readers help raise £100,000 for Medical Aid for Palestinians

“We call on all countries of the free world to pressure the occupation to stop the war of genocide and ethnic cleansing against our Palestinian people.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Israeli army has “a responsibility to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid into and across Gaza safely, regularly and at the scale required”.

Israel claimed that an average of 126 food trucks are entering Gaza each day in March.

Prior to October 7 – when Hamas attacked parts of Southern Israel, killing 1200 people and taking around 250 people hostage – about 500 aid trucks were entering Gaza each day.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak must 'sack' minister 'worried there may be peace' in Middle East

The situation in Rafah is becoming increasingly difficult for Palestinians; the World Food Programme estimates that four in five Gazans face hunger and starvation, whilst the World Health Organisation has warned that disease could kill more Palestinians than bombs.

Elsewhere, in the West Bank people have been gathering at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (below) in East Jerusalem for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan.

The National: Israeli police escort Jewish visitors marking the holiday pf Passover to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

Al Jazeera reported that around 80,000 worshippers had made it to the holy site, but reports have also emerged of Israeli forces blocking emergency services from entering the compound.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said an ambulance team had been prevented from entering the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque to provide aid.

The latest report from OCHA said that at least 418 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 in the Israeli-occupied West Bank by Israeli soldiers and settlers.