International calls for a ceasefire in Gaza intensify as Israel faces warnings and diplomatic efforts. CIA Director William Burns heads to Cairo for talks on a Qatari-brokered proposal, while China urges Israel to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

Israel faced growing international pressure on Tuesday to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas, as it prepared for an incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million Palestinians are trapped. CIA Director William Burns is due in Cairo on Tuesday for a new round of talks on a Qatari-brokered ceasefire proposal that would temporarily halt fighting in exchange for Hamas freeing hostages. After White House talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday, US President Joe Biden said civilians in Rafah “need to be protected”. “Many people there have been displaced — displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they’re packed into Rafah — exposed and vulnerable,” he said.King Abdullah pushed for a full ceasefire to end the four-month-old war. “We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah. It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe,” he said. “We need a lasting ceasefire now.”China urged Israel to “stop its military operation as soon as possible… in order to prevent a more serious humanitarian disaster in the Rafah area”.

After rejecting Hamas’s terms for a truce last week, Israel conducted a predawn raid in Rafah on Monday that freed two hostages and killed around 100 people.

Netanyahu hailed the operation that freed Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Luis Har, 70, as “perfect”, while the Palestinian foreign ministry said the deaths of dozens of Gazans amounted to a “massacre”.

Netanyahu rebuffed Israel’s key ally, insisting that “complete victory” cannot be achieved without the elimination of the militants’ last battalions in Rafah.

With AFP