Following the order from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to evacuate civilians in Rafah, on the border of the Gaza Strip with Egypt, in order to carry out a military incursion, the Palestinian group Hamas threatened this Sunday (11/02 ), that “any Israeli ground offensive in the region could end negotiations to release the hostages”, according to the broadcaster Al-Aqsa.
According to the Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeerathe statement was made by one of the leaders of the Palestinian group after 25 people died and dozens were injured in an Israeli bombing that hit a residential building in Rafah.
“Netanyahu wants the war to continue to stay in power and does not want to lose his right-wing coalition. He wants to continue fighting until the US elections in November so that Trump wins,” accused Mohammed Nizal, a senior Hamas figure.
In turn, Israel declared that the operations in Gaza enable a “realistic agreement” for the release of the hostages, contradicting Hamas’ position.
“The deepening of operations in Gaza helps us bring us closer to a realistic agreement for the return of the hostages. We have entered the heart of Hamas’ most sensitive locations and are using their intelligence against them”, declared the politician, convinced that the Palestinian group now focuses on Rafah.
Netanyahu ordered last Saturday (10/02) that the Israeli occupation forces devise a two-pronged plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians from the city of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, in order to combat Hamas militants in the region.
“It is impossible to achieve the objective of the war without eliminating Hamas. On the contrary, it is clear that the intense activity in Rafah requires civilians to evacuate the fighting areas,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
“Therefore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli army and the security establishment to present to the Cabinet a combined plan to evacuate the population and destroy the battalions,” the document ends.
The statement, issued two days after Netanyahu rejected a Hamas ceasefire proposal that also called for the release of prisoners of war held by the Palestinian group, did not provide further details.
The announcement of the evacuation came after great pressure on his office due to the decision to attack Rafah, a city where more than half of the two million displaced Palestinians have already taken refuge following the evacuation orders given by Israel, many of them trapped against the fence. border with Egypt and living in makeshift tents.
The pressure even came from Israel’s greatest ally in the war, the United States. US President Joe Biden said Israel’s response to the October 7 attacks by the Palestinian resistance was “exaggerated”, saying he would not support any military operation launched in Rafah without due consideration for civilians.
Representing UNICEF, Executive Director Catherine Russell said civilians in Rafah must be protected as they have nowhere to go.
“Rafah is one of the most densely populated places in the world, full of children and families, some already displaced many times by the war in Gaza,” she said via social media.
“About 1.3 million civilians are trapped, living on the streets or in shelters. They need to be protected. They have nowhere safe to go,” Russell added.
Aid groups have said there would be a high number of Palestinian deaths if Israeli forces invaded Rafah and warned of the growing humanitarian crisis in the city.
Despite the criticism, in an interview with ABC (American Broadcasting Company)Netanyahu rejected calls for the country to avoid a military offensive in Rafah.
“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically telling us to lose the war or keep Hamas there,” said the head of government.