Rafah, a Gaza border town, is facing the possibility of an Israeli ground attack, according to reports from Netanyahu’s office. The Prime Minister has instructed the armed forces to draw up a plan to destroy four Hamas battalions in the city and evacuate civilians from the Rafah area. The attack should be completed by March 10 before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.
One of the biggest challenges is that Israel has not yet reached an agreement with Egypt on what to do about the tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza. Hamas is believed to have used these tunnels to smuggle weapons and other supplies into Gaza. Netanyahu’s declarations of intent to attack Rafah could put pressure on Hamas leaders to show more flexibility in negotiations between the two sides.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry reported that more than 28,000 people had already been killed by Israeli airstrikes and attacks by Saturday in response to the October attack by Hamas. International actors have expressed concern about the potential human cost of a possible attack on Rafah, as there are hundreds of thousands of civilians in the area.
Hamas has warned that an Israeli ground attack on Rafah could result in tens of thousands of casualties. It remains unclear what will happen next regarding these tensions, but one thing is clear: this situation will continue to be closely monitored and reported upon as it unfolds.