Mounting Warnings as Israel Gears Up for Offensive in Rafah, Gaza

Mounting Warnings as Israel Gears Up for Offensive in Rafah, Gaza

Tel-Aviv - Israel is encountering increasing international warnings regarding its planned offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza densely populated with Palestinian refugees.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed that the Israeli military will proceed with its planned ground offensive, emphasizing that an evacuation plan is being formulated.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron highlighted that "over half of Gaza's population are sheltering in the area."

Saudi Arabia cautioned of "very serious repercussions" if Rafah was breached.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot also cautioned about "significant civilian casualties," while the United Nations expressed concerns, stating that there is nowhere safe for the over a million Palestinians who have sought refuge in Rafah.

Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, warned of potentially "tens of thousands" of casualties, cautioning that any operation would undermine ongoing negotiations about the possible release of Israeli hostages held in the strip.

Israel initiated its operations in the Palestinian enclave following an attack on southern Israel on October 7, which resulted in over 1,200 casualties and around 240 hostages taken by Hamas gunmen. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported 112 additional Palestinian casualties over the previous day, bringing the total death toll to over 28,100, with more than 67,500 injured.

Many Gazans have ended up in Rafah after being displaced from their homes elsewhere at least once.

In an interview with US broadcaster ABC News, Mr. Netanyahu stated that "victory is within reach," asserting that the Israeli military would target the remaining Hamas terrorist groups in Rafah. He also assured that Israel would provide safe passage for civilians in the city.

When asked about where civilians should go, Mr. Netanyahu mentioned cleared areas north of Rafah, emphasizing ongoing planning efforts.

The US cautioned Israel that an invasion of Rafah as part of its Gaza assault would be disastrous, with the EU and the UN expressing their own concerns.

Aid organizations stated that evacuating everyone from the city on the Egypt border is not feasible. UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, who recently visited Gaza, expressed worries about the lack of safe havens if Israeli troops launch their offensive.

Mr. Cameron voiced deep concerns about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah, calling for an immediate pause in fighting to facilitate aid delivery and hostage release.

Ms. Bruins Slot described the situation in Rafah as "very worrying," expressing doubts about large-scale military operations in such a densely populated area.

The Saudi foreign ministry reiterated its demand for an immediate ceasefire and warned against targeting Rafah, the last refuge for hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by Israeli aggression.

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah killed at least six Palestinians, including two Hamas operatives, while the IDF claimed to have found a Hamas tunnel near a UNRWA school. UNRWA denied knowledge of the tunnel. Additionally, a six-year-old girl and her relatives were found dead after suspected fire from Israeli tanks. The IDF reported killing around 100 terrorists in Khan Younis, and three patients died due to Israeli troops preventing oxygen delivery to al-Amal Hospital.

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