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War in the Middle East: Israel advances plans for offensive in Rafah

War in the Middle East: Israel advances plans for offensive in Rafah

Israel wants to destroy the last Hamas battalions in Rafah. Warn allies. Will there be more targeted strikes instead of the feared large-scale invasion? The news at a glance.

Israel’s army is pushing ahead with plans for a controversial military offensive against the Islamist Hamas in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. However, according to information from the news magazine “Politico”, the USA, as Israel’s most important ally, is pushing for the Jewish state to refrain from a feared major invasion of the city that borders Egypt. An estimated 1.5 million people are currently seeking protection from war in a very small space.

Senior US officials have told their Israeli counterparts that US President Joe Biden’s administration would support Israel carrying out targeted strikes against Hamas there, as long as a large-scale invasion is avoided, Politico reported. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant indicated an imminent start to the planned military offensive in Rafah during a visit to troops in Gaza. “There is no safe haven for terrorists in Gaza,” he said, according to an Israeli government statement.

Blinken calls for protection of civilians

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken once again appealed to Israel to improve the humanitarian situation in the sealed-off coastal strip and to ensure the protection of the civilian population. US President Biden has already made it clear that this must be a priority, said Blinken in Washington. This should not be a secondary consideration.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” Blinken said. The USA tried by all means to increase humanitarian aid. Nevertheless, the “most effective way” is a ceasefire. “There is a very good proposal on the table right now. The question is whether Hamas will accept this proposal,” Blinken said. There is intensive exchange with the other mediating states Qatar and Egypt to see how a deal could be reached.

Israel plans ‘humanitarian islands’ for Rafah civilians

Meanwhile, Israel’s armed forces said, according to the Times of Israel newspaper, that a large number of people in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, would be moved to “humanitarian islands” in the center of the sealed-off coastal area ahead of a military operation. Army spokesman Daniel Hagari was quoted as saying that their relocation to designated areas will be carried out in coordination with international actors.

He did not say when the evacuation would take place or when the offensive on the city would begin. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently expressed his determination to begin the offensive in Rafah soon, despite international warnings. “We are very close to a victory,” he said in an interview conducted by “Bild”, Welt TV and “Politico”.

“Even those who think we are delaying will soon see that we will reach every region,” said Defense Secretary Galant. Although he did not mention Rafah by name, the Times of Israel interpreted his statement as a reference to the planned offensive.

Galant may have been referring to reports that allies have urged Israel to postpone an invasion of Rafah, wrote the New York Times. Israel wants to destroy the last four remaining Hamas battalions in Gaza in Rafah.

Report: US prefers targeted strikes against Hamas

However, according to Politico, the US wants to prevent Israel’s armed forces from reducing the city to rubble and killing many of the civilians. A large-scale campaign is unacceptable for Biden. The US President spoke of a “red line” in this context at the weekend. He calls for a credible concept to protect civilians.

Senior US officials have signaled to Israel that they could support a plan that is more comparable to targeted counterterrorism operations, Politico wrote. Biden had warned that another 30,000 Palestinians should not be allowed to die as a result of the action against Hamas. This angered Netanyahu.

Israel’s army: Hamas commander targeted killed in Rafah

Israel’s army says it killed a key Hamas commander in a targeted attack in Rafah. Based on intelligence information, a fighter jet “precisely attacked and eliminated the terrorist in Hamas’ operational unit in the Rafah area,” the military said in a statement.

According to the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, the attack hit the aid organization’s food and relief distribution center. At least one UNRWA employee was killed and 22 others were injured. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, a total of five people were killed in the attack. An Israeli army spokesman said they were investigating the reports.

The war was triggered by a massacre in which terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups murdered around 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 in Israel on October 7th. In response, Israel’s military began its attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 31,000 people, according to the health authority there. The number makes no distinction between civilians and fighters and cannot be independently verified.

The German Air Force also wants to drop relief supplies

The German Air Force is scheduled to use transport aircraft to drop urgently needed relief supplies into the Gaza Strip this week. “The people in Gaza lack the bare necessities. We would like to do our part to ensure that they have access to food and medicine,” said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) after agreeing in principle to such an operation.

Bundeswehr transport aircraft stationed in France are to be used for this purpose. The first plane took off for the Gaza relief mission. After a stopover in Toulouse, we were supposed to go to Jordan to load the relief supplies onto the plane.

Source: Stern

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