Netanyahu Calls for Rafah Evacuation, Says Hamas Battalions Hiding There
Netanyahu Calls for Rafah Evacuation, Says Hamas Battalions Hiding There
Rafah is the only city in the Gaza Strip that the IDF has not attacked. Netanyahu said IDF forces must draw up an evacuation plan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told military officials to draw up plans for “evacuating” Rafah. Rafah is currently housing half of Gaza’s 2.4 million people as many displaced people have taken refuge in shelters to escape the war between Israel and Hamas. He also told officials that the primary aim of the Gaza siege which was to eliminate Hamas is impossible to achieve if ‘four Hamas battalions’ are still stationed in Rafah.

“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war without eliminating Hamas, and 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,” Netanyahu’s office said.

“Therefore, 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,” Netanyahu’s office further added.

Rafah is the last major Gaza city in the blockaded coastal strip that Israeli ground troops have yet to attack. Israeli military intensified air raids on a city teeming with about half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.4 million people on Thursday evening and late Friday morning.

The US President Joe Biden issued the strongest rebuke yet to Israel after reports of the Rafah offensive reached the White House. “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top. There are a lot of innocent people who are starving… in trouble and dying, and it’s got to stop,” Biden was quoted as saying.

The US State Department said it does not support a ground offensive in Rafah, warning that, if not properly planned, such an operation in a city sheltering more than one million displaced Palestinians risked “disaster”.

“There is no safe place in Rafah. If they storm Rafah we will die in our homes. We have no choice. We don’t want to go anywhere else,” Jaber al-Bardini, a resident of Rafah, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

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