Israel announced this Friday that it already has a plan to expand its military offensive to Rafah, in the southern end of Gaza, next to the border with Egypt, where more than a million displaced people from other towns in the Strip are crowded. The Prime Minister’s Office has reported in a statement that Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to design a plan to evacuate civilians before expanding the offensive to that city and has assured that “it is impossible to achieve the war’s objective of eliminating Hamas and leave four battalions in Rafah.”
Netanyahu has asked the Army and military leaders to present to the war cabinet a “dual plan, both for the evacuation of the population and for the dissolution of the battalions” of Hamas that, according to the chief executive, remain in Rafah, although has not provided any evidence of this. “It is clear that a massive operation in Rafah requires the evacuation of civilians from combat zones,” he added in the statement.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had already suggested several times in the last week that Israel would advance towards Rafah, after concluding its operations in Khan Younis, the largest city in the south and alleged Hamas stronghold. Ground operations by Israeli troops have been concentrated in Khan Yunis in the last two weeks, after the Army ordered the evacuation of the western part and expanded its offensive to this town at the end of January.
During this time, Rafah has also been the target of Israeli attacks, but the fighting has not reached what is considered the last safe place for civilians. In the early hours of Friday, Israel bombed Rafah, where several people have died and, in total, from Thursday to Friday, 107 Palestinians have died in Gaza, according to the Strip’s Ministry of Health, which has raised the death toll since the beginning. of the war to 27,947, in addition to almost 67,500 wounded.
Israel’s main ally, the United States, has repeatedly warned of the risk of expanding the offensive to Rafah, due to the high number of civilians crowded there and because the border crossing of the same name is the only way for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. . This Thursday, the State Department warned that a military operation in Rafah, without adequate planning for the evacuation of civilians, would be “a disaster.”
The UN and humanitarian agencies have also denounced Israel’s possible plans, which have come to fruition today. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said last night via the social network The information about the Israeli Army’s intentions to focus on Rafah soon is alarming. “An action like that would exponentially worsen what is already a humanitarian nightmare with unpredictable regional consequences.”
The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, also showed its concern for the more than 600,000 children and their families who have been displaced in Rafah. “An escalation of fighting in Rafah, already strained by the extraordinary number of people who have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, will mark another devastating turn” in the Gaza war, in which an estimated number of people have died. least 12,000 minors. “We need to keep the last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems in Gaza functioning. Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket and more children’s lives will be claimed,” said UNICEF, referring to the fact that some medical centers and some basic services are still in operation in Rafah, since in the rest of the coastal enclave they have been destroyed. or affected by four months of conflict.
With information from EFE