Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to concerns raised by key allies, world leaders, and aid agencies regarding Israel’s preparations for a ground invasion of Rafah in Gaza.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Netanyahu expressed his disagreement with those who oppose entering Rafah, stating that they are essentially advocating for losing the war and allowing Hamas to remain there.
Netanyahu issued an order on Friday, instructing the military to develop a plan for the evacuation of Rafah. This area in southern Gaza serves as a vital corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Earlier, Palestinians were advised to seek refuge in Rafah for their safety.
According to John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, the United States is not in favor of Israel’s attack on the region. Kirby emphasized that a military operation would have devastating consequences for the civilians living there. In a recent interview with NPR, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that, given the existing circumstances, a military operation in the city is not feasible.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres shared a similar sentiment, expressing in a post on X that an operation in Rafah would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation and have severe regional consequences.
According to a post on X, Josep Borrell, the top diplomat of the EU, expressed concern over the potential offensive on Rafah. He emphasized that such an action would lead to catastrophic consequences, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation and increasing the unbearable civilian toll.
In an attempt to downplay the magnitude of a potential invasion, Netanyahu emphasized that Rafah only represents a fraction of Gaza, which is home to approximately 1.4 million people.
Netanyahu stated that his administration has successfully cleared a region north of Rafah and is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians, providing them with a designated place to seek refuge.
“We take this matter seriously. It is an integral part of our strategy to protect civilians from danger. On the other hand, Hamas intentionally puts them in harm’s way. However, we have been successful in our mission so far, and we will continue to succeed,” stated Netanyahu, emphasizing their commitment to safeguarding civilians.
Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip has already claimed the lives of more than 28,000 individuals, as reported by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry. This devastating conflict has also left thousands injured and millions displaced. Israeli military officials have confirmed the deaths of at least 224 soldiers, in addition to the casualties sustained during Hamas’ incursion on October 7.