US President Joe Biden says civilians who’re “packed” into Rafah in the Gaza Strip are exposed and vulnerable.

His comments come as Israel begins a military assault on the city.

President Biden says Israel must make “credible” efforts to protect the more than one million Palestinians sheltering in the southern Gazan city.

The president appealed for the protection of Rafah civilians after his meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Washington on Monday.

He says any major military operation in the city should not proceed without a credible plan for ensuring the safety of those living there.

Rafah has come under heavy Israeli air strikes in recent days, with a number of casualties reported.

A Palestinian doctor told the BBC people in Rafah were living in fear.

Last week, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he had ordered troops to prepare to expand its ground operation to Rafah.

He vowed to defeat Hamas gunmen hiding in the city.

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s population of 2.3 million are now crammed into the city on the border with Egypt, which was home to only 250,000 people before the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.