Home west asia Israel Ready To Move Ahead With Rafah Operation, Says Defence Official

Israel Ready To Move Ahead With Rafah Operation, Says Defence Official


Israel has said it is poised to move ahead with a ground operation on Rafah according to a senior Israeli defence official. The aim according to the official is to attack the remaining Hamas hold-outs in southern Gaza and evacuate Palestinians from there. He said that the Israeli defence ministry had already bought 40,000 tents each of which could hold 10-12 people in advance of the assault.

The defence official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters that the military could go into action immediately but was awaiting a green light from Netanyahu.

Israel has so far officially given no timeline of when the assault is likely to take place but in a video message in Hebrew on Sunday which was posted on X, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel would strike “painful blows” at the terrorist group to free the hostages. This was seen as a hint of an impending invasion of Rafah. The southern city is already facing a humanitarian crisis and Fabrizio Carboni, Middle East Regional Director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was not immediately clear where they could be evacuated to.

“The rumour is that the probability of a major operation in Rafah is increasing. When we see the level of destruction in the middle area (of Gaza) and in the north, it’s not clear to us where people will be moved to… where they can have decent shelter and essential services. So today, with the information we have and from where we stand, we don’t see this (massive evacuation) as possible,” said Carboni, on the sidelines of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference (DIHAD).

Rafah, which abuts the Egyptian border, is sheltering more than a million Palestinians who fled the half-year-old Israeli offensive through the rest of Gaza. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has described their situation as a “humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences,” and has called for an immediate ceasefire.

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International pressure has been put on Israel to not go ahead with the offensive. Israel’s closest ally Washington has called on it to set aside plans for an assault, and says Israel can combat Hamas fighters there by other means.

“We could not support a Rafah ground operation without an appropriate, credible, executable humanitarian plan precisely because of the complications for delivery of assistance,” David Satterfield, U.S. special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, told reporters on Tuesday.

“We continue discussions with Israel on what we believe are alternate ways of addressing a challenge which we recognise, which is Hamas military present in Rafah.”

Israel’s neighbour Egypt says it will not allow Gazans to be pushed across the border onto its territory. Cairo has warned Israel against moving on Rafah, which “would lead to massive human massacres, losses (and) widespread destruction,” its State Information Service said.

(With inputs from Reuters)