Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to draw up a plan for the military takeover and the civilian evacuation of Rafah, the last major Hamas terror stronghold located on the Gaza-Egypt border.
The Israeli prime minister “ordered the military and security officials to come up with a ‘combined plan’ that includes both a mass evacuation of civilians and the destruction of Hamas’ forces in the town,” the Associated Press reported Saturday. “Israel says that Rafah is the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza after more than four months of war,” the news agency noted.
The Egyptian border, particularly the Rafah Border Crossing, is a major terrorist supply route for Hamas’s leadership, who are facing near-annihilation at the hands of the advancing IDF troops.
Rafah, the southernmost part of the Gaza, contains a vast web of terror tunnels leading into Egypt. These cross-border tunnels play a crucial role in re-arming Hamas amid the ongoing IDF offensive and may enable Hamas’s top terrorists to escape the Israeli encirclement.
The destruction of Hamas in Rafah is key to Israel’s twin military objective of liberating the hostages and eliminating the Gaza-based terrorist leadership and fighting force.
📍 Rafah: The IDF is distributing leaflets. pic.twitter.com/6QNZcVlJ6h
— Israel War Room (@IsraelWarRoom) February 10, 2024
The Jerusalem Post reported:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed the IDF and the defense establishment to bring to the war cabinet a plan for both the evacuation of civilians in the south Gaza city of Rafah and the neutralization of the four Hamas battalions therein, the Prime Minister’s Office stated on Friday.
It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war without eliminating Hamas, and by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” the statement noted. “On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.”
“Therefore,” the statement continued, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the IDF and the security establishment to submit to the Cabinet a combined plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions.”
The Prime Minister’s Office:
It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.
On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 9, 2024
Netanyahu’s order comes after President Joe Biden on Friday described the Israeli response to the Hamas’s mass-murder of innocent civilians on October 7 as being “over the top.” Biden’s comments reflect the opinion held by his senior staffers and some leading democrats. Former Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, on Wednesday called for the ouster of prime minister Netanyahu as the military operation against Hamas enters its final phase.
President Biden calls Israel’s conduct in Gaza “over the top,” and says he is “pushing very hard” for a sustained pause to the fighting. pic.twitter.com/59En2DfFVB
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 9, 2024
The Israeli armed forces continued counter-terror operations across Gaza, particularly in the southern terrorist bastion of Khan Yunis.
“IDF troops are continuing joint operations in the Gaza Strip. The troops are killing terrorists, locating numerous weapons, and, in parallel, the IAF continues to strike terrorist infrastructure with the direction of the ground troops. The troops are continuing intensive activities throughout Khan Yunis, the northern and central Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a press release on Saturday.
The IDF says intensive fighting between troops and Hamas operatives continues in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, as well as in the Strip’s center and north.
Simultaneously, the IDF says the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes on various Hamas targets across the Strip.
In central… pic.twitter.com/jiRdoe9N3s
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) February 10, 2024
Israel hits Iranian-backed terror militias in Syria
Israel on Saturday conducted anti-terror strikes for the second day against Iranian-backed terrorist groups in neighboring Syria. Last month, the IDF carried out a series of drome and airstrikes against Iranian operatives and their proxy terrorists, eliminating several Iranian Islamic Guard (IRGC) generals, including Tehran’s head of intelligence in Syria.
The Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reported:
An attack near Damascus overnight, attributed to Israel by the Syrian defense ministry, had targeted a headquarters used by Iranian-backed militias in the Dimas area, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed cited local sources.
According to the same report, and another by Reuters, there were no injuries but only material damage. However, a third news site affiliated with Syrian opposition Voice of the Capital said there were two people killed in the attack.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) later reported that three people were killed in the attack, citing its local sources, but the identities were still unknown. (…)
Meanwhile, the Saudi channel Al-Hadth reported that there were two attacks Iranian-backed targets in the Dimas area of Damascus. Though it could have referred to an earlier attack on Friday mid-day attributed to Israel, less than 24 hours prior.
Besides Lebanon, Syria has emerged as a forward base for Iran to wage its terrorist war against Israel. The recent IDF strikes have severely disrupted Iran terrorist activities in Syria, forcing Iran to pull out all its top IRGC operatives from the country.
Hezbollah continues rocket barrages, drone infiltration of Israel
Days after Lebanon’s government refused to roll-back Hezbollah’s terrorist build up along the Israel’s northern border, the Iranian-backed terrorist militia continues to fire rocket barrages and send attack drones across the border.
The Times of Israel reported Sunday morning:
Warning sirens sound in the Galilee along the Lebanese border.
A rocket warning siren sounds in the community of Avivim, while a drone infiltration alert sounds in Iftach, the Mevuot Hermon Regional Council, Ramot Naftali, Malkia, Dishon, Lehavot HaBashan, Kfar Blum, Shamir, Kfar Szold, Amir, Neot Mordechai, Sdeh Nechemia and Gonen.
The sirens come a day after the Hezbollah terror group fired a barrage of over 30 rockets at northern Israel.
This is some of the most insane footage I have ever seen – dozens of rockets fired earlier tonight from Lebanon into Israel by Hezbollah; intercepted 1 by 1 by the Iron dome.
0 Casualties. pic.twitter.com/nCoJWdLRCk
— Yaari Cohen (@YaariCohen) February 9, 2024
The Israeli military and air force conducted retaliatory strikes against Hezbollah terror targets.
“A short while after, IDF soldiers identified one of the launchers from which the fire was carried out in the area of Khilat al-Daba in Lebanon. An aircraft struck the launcher,” the IDF confirmed Sunday. “The IDF also struck a Hezbollah military compound in the area of Khiam. In addition, IDF artillery struck several locations in Lebanese territory.”
Hezbollah’s relentless cross-border attacks have forced nearly 100,000 Israeli civilians to flee their homes in the north. The IDF vowed to end Hezbollah’s strikes and incursions, in order to enable the civilians to return to their homes. The Israeli military’s objective is “to change the security situation in the north in a way that will allow the residents’ safe return,” IDF’s Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Ori Gordin promised Friday.
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