Israeli Military Preparing Offensive on Hamas Rafah Stronghold, Despite Mounting Threats from Biden Admin

2024-03-28 12:00:02

Despite repeated threats from President Joe Biden’s administration, Israel is preparing for a ground offensive on Hamas’s last remaining stronghold of Rahaf.

“The Israel Defense Forces has begun isolating Rafah in southern Gaza and has started taking steps to evacuate the city’s civilian population, Channel 12 reported on Wednesday,” the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) news agency reported Thursday, citing Hebrew language media.

The preparations are largely focused on the humanitarian aspects, with the Israeli government ordering thousands of tents to accommodate evacuees from Rafah. “As part of the preparations for the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the purchase from China of 40,000 tents for Rafah evacuees, which will be moved to the Gaza Strip from Israel, according to the report,” the news agency added.

The revelations come as Hamas on Tuesday rejected a Gaza ceasefire compromise foisted the Biden White House on Israel. Jerusalem had offered to release around 800 convicted Palestinian terrorists in exchange for dozens of hostages, mainly women and children. The terror group in a statement rejected the deal, instead demanding an immediate ceasefire, complete military withdrawal from Gaza and large-scale release of terrorists from Israeli prisons.

The delay in the planned Rafah offensive has largely been caused due to Israel’s humanitarian concerns, the Jerusalem Post suggested on Thursday.

The newspaper reported the military’s plan to evacuate Rafah:

Israel and the IDF had detailed plans for evacuating the civilians: Al-Mawasi on the coast, to designated parts of Khan Yunis that have already been cleared of Hamas, and to parts of central Gaza that have already been cleared of Hamas.

The plans include specific safe corridors which have also been mapped out.

And the IDF moved most of the 1.2 million Palestinian civilians out of Gaza City mostly successfully, so it has managed a mass evacuation already, in addition to smaller but sizable mass evacuations from Khan Yunis and parts of central Gaza.

Also, Israel and the IDF were willing to stagger the invasion of Rafah into stages to make sure that most of the civilians left before major fighting took place.

The Israeli military is planning to conduct the Rafah operation between mid-April or early May, a report published by The Times of Israel on Wednesday claimed:

Following the failure of the latest round of negotiations in Qatar, Israel is not willing to make any further concessions to Hamas and is gearing up for an invasion of Rafah after Eid al-Fitr — the three-day holiday that follows Ramadan and ends around April 12 — or in early May at the latest, according to Egyptian sources who have been in contact with IDF officials, quoted by the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily.

The ground op inside the last bastion of Hamas in the Gaza Strip would last between four and eight weeks, the sources say, and would be accompanied by an evacuation of the civilian population sheltering in Rafah, which amounts to about 1.5 million people, toward the center of the Strip along specific routes and at specific times, announced to civilians in each area of Rafah in advance.

The mass evacuation would be monitored from the ground and the air to ensure that no Hamas fighters or Israeli hostages are hidden among the Gazan civilians, the Egyptian officials say.

Biden admin ups pressure on Israel, slows downs military exports

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel of  ‘diplomatic isolation’ if it decided to go against Hamas in Rafah. The offensive “risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long term security and standing,” Blinken said during his visit to Israel on Friday.

Vice President Kamala Harris threatened Israel with “consequences” if the country went ahead with the operation.

“Let me tell you something: I have studied the maps,” Harris declared, bragging about her grasp of cartography and urban warfare. “There’s nowhere for those folks to go,” she claimed referring to Rafah’s civilian population.

President Biden’s national security spokesman, John Kirby, became the latest White House staffer to warn Israel against taking on Hamas terrorists in Rafah, the Israeli Tv channel i24NEWS reported:

Later on Wednesday, the White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby reiterated that the U.S. stands against the operation in Rafah, telling Channel 12 that Washington “just can’t support a major ground offensive in Rafah that doesn’t include an achievable, verifiable plan to look after the safety and security of the 1.5 million Gazans that have sought refuge there.”

“Again, we believe that a major ground operation in Rafah is a mistake. We believe that there are other ways to go after Hamas in Rafah to do it in a way that doesn’t put those people, the refugees, in harm’s way,” added Kirby.

Apart from diplomatic threats, the Biden administration appears to have slowed down defense exports in a bid to force Israel into submission. After nearly six months of fighting, the Israeli officials “noted a recent reduction of American arms supplies,” The New York Sun reported March 18. The IDF was “running out of 155 mm artillery shells and 120 mm tank shells, as well as sensitive guidance equipment,” the news website disclosed.

With Israel busy with humanitarian planning, Hamas fortifies Rafah

With the Israeli government and the military planners busy with humanitarian planning, Hamas appears to have received a desperately sought breather after months of fighting. Hamas’s terrorist fighting force is regrouping and fortifying its last-standing stronghold, the Israeli media reported citing Arab sources.

The i24NEWS reported Thursday:

Hamas began preparing for an Israeli ground operation into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, according to a report published by the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Thursday.

According to the report, citing a Hamas leader, coordination was underway “emphasizing not to allow the breaking of resistance in Gaza under any circumstances, no matter what it costs.”

IDF raid on Shifa Hospital continues, 200 terrorists eliminated

The Israeli operation against Hamas terrorists inside the Shifa Hospital in Gaza city entered its tenth day, with IDF eliminating estimated 200 terrorists and apprehending hundreds others, including several high-value Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives.

“The IDF and ISA [Israel Security Agency, also known as Shin Bet] are continuing to conduct precise operational activity in the area of the Shifa Hospital while preventing harm to civilians, patients, medical teams, and medical equipment. Approximately 200 terrorists have been eliminated in the area of the hospital since the beginning of the activity,” the Israeli military revealed in press release on Thursday.


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Israeli Military Preparing Offensive on Hamas Rafah Stronghold, Despite Mounting Threats from Biden Admin


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