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The Israeli military has told tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave the southern Gazan city of Rafah, with Israel’s defence minister warning of an imminent military “operation” as talks to free Israeli hostages appeared to have stalled.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson told reporters that at least 100,000 civilians in eastern Rafah, along the border with Israel, should move to what Israel calls a humanitarian zone on the Mediterranean.

The spokesperson described this as “a limited scope” operation that was part of a “gradual plan”.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, told troops in Gaza on Sunday that there were “worrying signs” that negotiations over a ceasefire and a hostage swap with militant group Hamas were foundering.

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