Aid groups are criticizing Israel’s plans to evacuate civilians from the Rafah fighting areas

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Moody’s downgraded Israel’s credit rating on Friday and changed the outlook for the country to negative, citing the war with Hamas and the rating agency’s concern that the conflict could be a long-term economic burden.

Moody’s downgraded Israel from A1 to A2, which remains in a category it considers “low credit risk.” The main reason for the downgrade was that the military activity “significantly poses a political risk to Israel in addition to weakening its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength, in the future.” ,” the US-based group said in a statement on Friday.

Credit ratings assess the ability of countries or companies to repay borrowed money, and are monitored by investors. Moody’s said it “expects Israel’s debt burden to be significantly higher than expected before the conflict.” Economists estimated that the war had cost Israel about $18 billion by the end of December, or about $220 million a day, the Washington Post reported. Costs are expected to rise if a wider war breaks out with the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a statement on Friday, arguing that the “economy is strong” and that the downturn is “entirely because we are at war,” Israeli public broadcaster Kan said.

Israel plans to remove civilians from refugee-filled Rafah, attack Hamas

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Humanitarian groups criticized Israel’s plans to evacuate civilians from fighting areas in Rafah after Netanyahu called for a “massive operation” in the city, where the majority of Gaza’s population has sought refuge. Amnesty International said that if the transfer order is implemented, it “could constitute the crime of forced transfer,” which the International Criminal Court considers a crime against humanity. Mercy Corps said if people are forced to flee to the north, “they can only return to devastated areas full of dangerous explosive devices and almost uncultivated.” “

CIA Director William J. Burns is expected to travel to Cairo on Tuesday to continue discussions on the prospective host release agreement, with US officials hoping Israel will get a response to Hamas’ latest proposal, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. The official said the Hamas proposal has “serious problems”, but US officials believe there is a broad framework for the two sides to come to an agreement.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said four doctors were among those detained by Israeli forces at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis on Friday. The arrest was made after an attack that lasted about 10 hours, the PRCS said on social media, adding that its teams were interrogated and beaten. They said on Monday that more than 8,000 civilians had left the hospital after two weeks of heavy military operations that prevented entry or exit to the facility, which the United Nations called a siege. The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At least 27,947 people have been killed and 67,459 injured in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Israel estimates that around 1,200 people were killed in the October 7 Hamas attack.

Yasmeen Abutaleb and Frances Vinall contributed to this report.

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