“We will do it”: Israeli Prime Minister prepares to invade Rafah | News of the Israeli war on Gaza
Israel insists on moving forward with its unspecified plans to invade the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where millions of displaced Palestinians are seeking refuge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his intention to extend the military operation in an interview broadcast late Saturday evening. “We’ll do it,” he announced, saying plans were underway.
This statement comes despite international concern about the possibility of a massacre. An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded into Rafah, surrounded by the border with Egypt, after the Israeli army ordered them to evacuate their homes elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.
The United States, the main supporter of Israel, warned of the plan to expand the ground attack on the city, which has been subjected to almost daily aerial bombardment for months.
At least 25 Palestinians were killed in overnight raids on Rafah, according to Al Jazeera journalists on the ground, while the Israeli army is present intensify its attacks this week. More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed so far since the start of the war on Gaza on October 7.
Nowhere to go
Netanyahu said in the interview with ABC News that he agrees with Washington on the necessity of evacuating civilians from Rafah before any ground invasion.
“We will do this while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave,” he said, according to published excerpts of the interview.
However, it is unclear where this large number of people, trapped on the border with Egypt and sheltering in makeshift tents, could go.
When Netanyahu was asked, he simply said that they were “working on developing a detailed plan.”
He said: “The areas that we cleared north of Rafah are many areas there.”
He said: “Those who say that we should not enter Rafah under any circumstances are basically saying: Lose the war, keep Hamas there.”
Al Jazeera’s Tariq Abu Azoum said in a report from Rafah that desperate Palestinians in the region feel they no longer have any choice.
He said: “We must remember that the majority of the injured and displaced were transferred to Rafah to be far from Israeli operations.”
Tensions with Egypt
Egypt strongly opposed the plan, which threatens to displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to the Sinai Peninsula.
It also remains very cautious about increasing Israeli military activity near its borders. Cairo warned that the peace treaty it concluded with Israel decades ago could be jeopardized if Israel deployed forces on its borders.
Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev said that the Israeli government takes Egypt’s sensitivity regarding the military operation in Rafah seriously, and that the two sides will be able to reach an agreement.
Mamoun Abu Nawar, a retired general in the Jordanian Air Force, told Al Jazeera that Hamas has deep tunnels in the area, some of which pass through Egypt.
He continued: “In order to control these tunnels, they have to work hard, to cut off these command centers or destroy them so that (Hamas) loses this leadership as a whole, but this will be a very difficult battle. It is a very difficult battle.” “It will take months.”
‘A recipe for disaster’
International warnings against the Rafah invasion continue.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell endorsed it in a post on Channel X late on Saturday Warnings from member states of the bloc The invasion of Rafah “will lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and serious tensions with Egypt.”
I reiterate the warning made by several European Union Member States that an Israeli attack on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and serious tensions with Egypt.
Resuming negotiations to free the hostages and suspending hostilities is the only way to avoid bloodshed.
– Josep Borrell Fonteles (@JosepBorrellF) February 10, 2024
Regional leaders are also sounding the alarm. Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said that the attack on Rafah would further destabilize the region and harm the Palestinians.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Sunday that there is a feeling of increasing anxiety and panic in the city of Rafah.
“A military attack in the middle of these vulnerable people who are completely exposed is a recipe for disaster. I was almost rendered speechless,” he said.
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