Report: Israeli army preparing for Rafah ground offensive 'very soon' - M5 Dergi
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Report: Israeli army preparing for Rafah ground offensive ‘very soon’

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Army’s advance into Rafah will proceed in stages, says public broadcaster, noting that over 1M people will need to be evacuated from city

The Israeli army is preparing to launch a military operation in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza “very soon,” local media reported Tuesday.

According to the public broadcaster KAN, which cited unnamed Israeli military sources, the army is preparing for a ground operation in Rafah that would include “evacuating a significant number of residents.”

“According to the army’s plan, more than 1 million Palestinians in Rafah will be asked to evacuate the area to shelters recently established in the southern and central parts of the Gaza Strip,” said the broadcaster’s military correspondent Itay Blumental.

Blumental noted that according to the plan, presented to the US and unnamed countries in Israel’s region, the army’s offensive into Rafah “will proceed in stages” and involve dividing the city into zones.

He indicated that “residents in each area will be notified in advance before any Israeli forces move in, allowing them to be evacuated in stages.”

Israeli security officials estimated that the evacuation of residents from Rafah could take between four and five weeks, according to the same source.

Revised plan

Earlier this week, the Israeli army made a fourth round of modifications to plans for a ground operation into Rafah, according to the broadcaster, which noted that the changes were made according to US reservations.

“The Americans initially expressed strong opposition to the Israeli ground operation in Rafah, fearing civilian casualties, but they eventually realized the importance of entering the city,” it added.

KAN quoted an unnamed Israeli security official as saying that Tel Aviv is in the process of establishing an “operations room” with the US to manage the operation in Rafah.

“We understand American concerns, but we cannot end the military operation in the Gaza Strip without entering Rafah, which could also help exert pressure leading to a breakthrough in the issue of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip,” the official reportedly added.

US’ stance

Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday evening that the decision to enter Rafah, which may change depending on developments, was made recently after the Gaza leader of Palestinian resistance group Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, rejected proposal by mediators a few days ago for a prisoner swap.

The Israeli newspaper suggested that Israel had exhibited restraint in its response to an Iranian missile and drone attack earlier this month and that this contributed to easing opposition in Washington to an operation in Rafah.

It underlined the need for Israel to coordinate with other countries in order to launch the operation.

Despite the global outcry over the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian enclave, the Israeli premier has long expressed his intention to attack Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza and one of the last significant communities spared from a ground invasion in the enclave.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Palestinian territory since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas, which killed nearly 1,200 people.

Nearly 34,200 Palestinians have since been killed and more than 77,000 others injured amid mass destruction and severe shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war, now in its 200th day, has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Source: AA

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