The Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, has instructed the armed forces to prepare a plan for a possible ground attack on Rafah, a Gaza border town. This decision comes amid ongoing tensions between Israel and Hamas, with the extremist organization believed to have used smuggling tunnels to bring weapons and supplies into Gaza.
While no date for the attack has been set yet, Israel’s declarations of intent have put pressure on Hamas leaders to show more flexibility in negotiations between the two sides. One of the biggest question marks is whether Israel has reached an agreement with Egypt regarding the fate of these tunnels, which run between Egypt and Gaza.
According to a press release from Netanyahu’s office, the Prime Minister has ordered the armed forces to destroy four Hamas battalions in Rafah and evacuate civilians from the area. The attack should be completed by March 10th before Ramadan begins, during which Muslims fast.
Hamas has warned that any Israeli ground attack on Rafah could claim tens of thousands of victims. International actors have also expressed concern about the potential effects of such an attack, as hundreds of thousands of civilians reside in the Rafah area. As per data from Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, over 28,000 people had already been killed by Israeli airstrikes and attacks as a response to October’s Hamas attack.