Middle East conflict live updates: Blinken heads to Qatar; Israeli plans stoke fears for civilians in Rafah

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to Qatar, his next stop on his Middle East tour that seeks to avoid a wider war, and to broker a deal for the release of Hamas-held hostages and the flow of more aid into Gaza. In Gaza, Israel’s plans to shift its offensive to Rafah have raised fears of devastating consequences for the city in the south, where about half of the enclave’s population has been forced to flee.

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