Israeli PM Orders Military To Prepare for Ground Invasion of Rafah
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to prepare for entering Rafah, rejecting Hamas’ truce plan and rebuffing US efforts to broker a deal. Netanyahu remained confident in achieving absolute victory and declared that the operation would last for months.
Talks for a truce are set to resume in Egypt, with the US expressing optimism about finding common ground. However, the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan adds political pressure. If Israeli attacks persist, the chances of a deal may diminish.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a ground invasion would exponentially increase the humanitarian crisis with untold regional consequences. Panic is gripping the residents of Rafah due to the threat of imminent ground invasion of the southern Gaza Strip. About 1.2 million people seek shelter with nowhere else to go.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the release of captives in Gaza in a meeting with Israel’s war cabinet. The discussions focused on operational aspects.
In overnight airstrikes on Rafah, previously declared a safe zone, Israel killed 14 Palestinians, including five children. The Gaza Strip’s southern region is facing intensified attacks from air, land, and sea.
Displaced Palestinians express fear about an uncertain future and the safety of their children.
Hamas presented a three-phase plan, spanning four and a half months, involving the release of captives and an end to the war. While there are non-starters in Hamas’s response, Blinken saw space for agreement and pledges relentless efforts.
In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces have killed 130 and wounded 170, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Air strikes on southern Rafah, a city sheltering over 1.2 million, were ordered by Netanyahu after shunning Hamas’ truce requirements.
Fears of famine intensify for 300,000 civilians surrounded by Israeli forces in northern Gaza. Since 7 October, Israel, with unconditional support from the United States, the United Kingdom and some western countries, has killed at 27,840, mostly women and children, and wounded 67,317 others. In addition, Israel has destroyed ver 80% of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and other civilian building. While blocking the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, Israeli forces are targeting aid workers and paramedics.
A team from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was the latest target of Israeli attacks on emergency workers. Israeli forces targeted the team was targeted during a mission, killing paramedic Mohammed al-Omari and causing serious injuries to two of his colleagues. This raises the total number of Palestinian Red Crescent Society members killed during humanitarian work in Gaza to 12.
In January, the UN’s International Court of Justice ordered Israel to ensure essential services and humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians. While Israel and its allies denounced the court decision, Israeli forces further intensified their attacks on Gaza, resulting in deaths of more civilians.
Meanwhile, Canada, one of Israel’s staunchest allies, has said that Israeli claims regarding UNRWA employees’ involvement in the 7 October attack have not been substantiated with evidence. Canada was among the major powers that suspended funding to UNRWA based on Israeli claims. No evidence has been provided to Canada regarding UNRWA employees’ involvement in the attack, Canadian officials said.
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