Women and children apparently also died in the intense attacks in the southern Gaza Strip. According to US media, planning the offensive on Rafah will take even more time.
According to Palestinian sources, more than 100 people were killed in the series of Israeli attacks in the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip. As the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported early in the morning, citing medical staff in Rafah, children and women were among the dead.
Hundreds of other people were also injured in the intense attacks in various parts of the city. The Israeli military had recently announced that “a series of attacks on terrorist targets in the Shabura area in the southern Gaza Strip” had been carried out. Shabura is near the city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian internally displaced people have sought protection.
The series of attacks had ended, the Israeli military said in a brief message on Telegram. No details were given. The Israeli military also announced that two hostages were rescued during the night-time operations early on Monday. They said her health was good.
Planning for the offensive obviously still takes time
US media had previously reported that Israel’s army had not yet completed planning a military offensive on Rafah. It will “probably take some time” and has not yet been presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the New York Times quoted Israeli officials and analysts as saying. The strategy for an offensive on the city bordering Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people have sought protection, is “very complex.”
Israel’s plan has met with international criticism. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) warned that this would be “a humanitarian catastrophe.” US President Joe Biden called for a convincing concept for the protection of the civilian population there.
Biden’s government has also expressed concerns to Israel about the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins on March 10, the New York Times reported, citing two Israeli officials. An attack on Rafah during Ramadan could be seen as particularly provocative by Muslims in the region and beyond, it said. The Israeli media had previously said that Netanyahu assumed that Israel only had around a month due to international pressure and that the offensive on Rafah would therefore have to be completed by the beginning of Ramadan.
Egypt fears an influx of fleeing Palestinians
Netanyahu ordered the army on Friday to prepare an offensive on Rafah. “It is impossible to achieve the war goal of eliminating Hamas if four Hamas battalions remain in Rafah,” he said. The army should therefore prepare the evacuation of civilians. According to eyewitnesses, Israel has already attacked targets in the city from the air on several occasions. Israeli ground troops have not yet been deployed there. Egypt fears that a massive military operation in Rafah could lead to a rush of desperate Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Avi Poet from Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party suggested that residents of the Israeli-sealed Gaza Strip could be relocated to an area west of Rafah along the coast, the New York Times reported. Yaakov Amidror, a former general and national security adviser, also sees other options, including some areas in the center of the coastal strip where the military has not yet advanced. The nearby city of Khan Yunis could also be an option once Israel has ended the military operation there against Hamas, it said.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.