Actus Réunion

Netanyahu envisage l’évacuation des civils de Rafah face aux craintes d’une attaque israélienne

Evacuation plan for civilians in Rafah ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as international community raises concerns of potential ground offensive in Gaza.

The US President Joe Biden criticized Israel’s response to the attack on October 7, calling it « excessive » and rare criticism since the start of the war 4 months ago between Israel and Hamas.

The war was triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel on the same day, resulting in over 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official data reported by AFP.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to « destroy » Hamas and launched a massive offensive that resulted in at least 27,940 deaths in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Health Ministry of the Islamist movement.

At least 107 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes in the past 24 hours, particularly in Rafah and Khan Younes, both a few kilometers apart, as reported by the ministry.

Several buildings were destroyed in Rafah and images from AFP photographers show people carrying the bodies of three children killed in an airstrike in one neighborhood.

After ordering the army on Wednesday to prepare for an offensive on Rafah, Benjamin Netanyahu requested a « combined plan » for the « evacuation » of civilians from Rafah and the « destruction » of Hamas in the city, according to his services.

Netanyahu stated, « The goal of the war cannot be achieved without eliminating Hamas and leaving four battalions of Hamas in Rafah, » adding that « civilians need to evacuate the combat zones. »

Humanity’s farewell?

Rafah, located near the closed border with Egypt, is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, the majority of whom have been displaced by the war and live in dire conditions, enduring daily air strikes.

The US stated on Thursday that they « would not support » a large-scale operation in Rafah, which was directly conveyed to Netanyahu by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, following his regional tour in Israel.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that such an offensive « would exponentially worsen the current humanitarian nightmare. »

Similarly, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell stated that it « would have catastrophic consequences, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation and an unbearable civilian toll. »

The Palestinian Authority condemned the « real threat » of an offensive against Rafah, calling it « a dangerous prelude » to the Israeli political project to « displace Palestinians from their land. » They added, « Palestinians will not accept being forcibly displaced from their homeland. »

If they invade Rafah, as Netanyahu said, there will be massacres, and we can say farewell to all humanity, » said Adel al-Hajj, a displaced person in the city.

Cairo negotiations come to an end

After relentless bombardments on the 362 km2 territory where about 2.4 million people reside, the Israeli army launched a ground offensive on the northern part of Gaza on October 27, extending it to the south, mainly to Khan Younes, north of Rafah.

On Friday, Israeli forces stormed Al-Amal hospital in Khan Younes, said the Palestinian Red Crescent. Approximately 40 displaced persons, 80 patients, and 100 employees are still in the facility, as previously reported by the source.

The army confirmed « a sweeping operation based on intelligence indicating Hamas was conducting terrorist activities within the hospital. »

During the October 7 attack, around 250 people were also abducted and taken to Gaza. According to Israel, 132 hostages are still held there, with 29 reported dead.

Negotiations between Qatari and Egyptian mediators and Hamas, which started on Thursday in Cairo to reach a ceasefire agreement including the exchange of Palestinian prisoners and hostages, ended on Friday, as Hamas official informed AFP. « The Hamas delegation left Cairo, » the official stated, « awaiting a response from Israel. »

An agreement in late November resulted in a 1-week ceasefire, increased aid to Gaza, and the release of about 240 Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel and over 100 hostages.


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