Rafah, a Gaza border town, is facing the possibility of a devastating Israeli ground attack. The Prime Minister’s office has ordered the armed forces to draw up a plan for the attack and evacuation of civilians in the area. However, one of the biggest question marks is that Israel has not yet reached an agreement with Egypt regarding the fate of the tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza.
Hamas, an extremist organization believed to have smuggled weapons and supplies into Gaza through these tunnels, could be pressured by Israel’s declarations of intent to attack Rafah. This could lead to more flexibility in negotiations between the two sides. According to a press release from Netanyahu’s office, the Prime Minister has instructed the armed forces to prepare a plan to destroy four Hamas battalions in Rafah and evacuate civilians from the area before March 10th, before Ramadan begins.
However, Hamas has warned that such an attack could result in tens of thousands of casualties. International actors have expressed their concern about the potential impact on civilians in Rafah and other parts of Gaza. In response to October’s Hamas attack, Israel had already ordered people to evacuate to southern Gaza, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians in danger. According to Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry data, over 28,000 people had already been killed by Israeli airstrikes and attacks by Saturday, in response to October’s attack by Hamas.