Netanyahu Orders IDF to Plan Evacuation of Southern Gazan City of Rafah and Destruction of Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he has ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to develop a plan to evacuate the population of the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, to make way for a military assault targeting elements of the Hamas terrorist group there.“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas 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,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a post on the X social media platform on Friday afternoon. “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.”The Netanyahu administration rejected terms Hamas leaders had offered for a ceasefire and release of hostages Hamas took during its attacks across southern Israel on Oct. 7.On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu claimed Israeli forces had killed, wounded, or captured around 20,000 Hamas fighters since Oct. 7, “shattered” 18 of 24 Hamas combat battalions, and are “mopping up” the remaining battalions with ongoing military action. Mr. Netanyahu’s Friday comments appear to reflect a revised Israeli estimate that 20 Hamas combat battalions have now been taken out of the fight.Exact casualty figures from the Gaza conflict are difficult to independently verify.As of Friday, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry had estimated nearly 28,000 Gazans had been killed in the ongoing fighting in the strip. The Gaza Health Ministry does not clearly distinguish between combatants and civilians in its death toll.Biden Admin Cautions Against Rafah Humanitarian ‘Disaster’The city of Rafah lies at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and runs along the border with Egypt.Related StoriesIsraeli forces called for widespread evacuations in the northern parts of the Gaza Strip before their initial ground assault there, and many Gazans have subsequently relocated to the southern side of the strip. As the Israeli military has moved its operations south, President Joe Biden’s administration has raised concerns civilians are running out of places to go amid struggles to get over to the Egyptian side of the border.The Egyptian government has been reluctant to accept refugees fleeing the Gaza Strip, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arguing this fall that Israel’s military operations since Oct. 7 appear to be an effort to compel the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip to migrate entirely out of Israel and undermine their claim to a Palestinian state.“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land,” the Egyptian president said in October.The Egyptian president had called for the Israeli side to take in the Gazan civilians until “the militants are dealt with.” When asked whether the Biden administration would favor an Israeli military assault on Rafah, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “We would not support the undertaking of something like this without serious and credible planning as it relates to the more than a million people who are sheltering there, as well as without considering the impacts on humanitarian assistance and the safe departure of foreign nationals as well.” Mr. Patel said the United States has not seen evidence of serious planning for how Israeli forces will handle an assault in Rafah.“To do any kind of such thing right now with no planning and little thought in an area where more than a million people are sheltering, an area that is a key conduit for humanitarian aid entering Gaza, a key conduit for the safe departure of foreign nationals, that would be a disaster,” Mr. Patel continued. “It’s not something that we would support, and [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] made that clear to [Mr. Netanyahu].”

Netanyahu Orders IDF to Plan Evacuation of Southern Gazan City of Rafah and Destruction of Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he has ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to develop a plan to evacuate the population of the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, to make way for a military assault targeting elements of the Hamas terrorist group there.

“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas 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,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a post on the X social media platform on Friday afternoon. “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.”

The Netanyahu administration rejected terms Hamas leaders had offered for a ceasefire and release of hostages Hamas took during its attacks across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu claimed Israeli forces had killed, wounded, or captured around 20,000 Hamas fighters since Oct. 7, “shattered” 18 of 24 Hamas combat battalions, and are “mopping up” the remaining battalions with ongoing military action. Mr. Netanyahu’s Friday comments appear to reflect a revised Israeli estimate that 20 Hamas combat battalions have now been taken out of the fight.

Exact casualty figures from the Gaza conflict are difficult to independently verify.

As of Friday, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry had estimated nearly 28,000 Gazans had been killed in the ongoing fighting in the strip. The Gaza Health Ministry does not clearly distinguish between combatants and civilians in its death toll.

.

Biden Admin Cautions Against Rafah Humanitarian ‘Disaster’

The city of Rafah lies at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and runs along the border with Egypt.

Israeli forces called for widespread evacuations in the northern parts of the Gaza Strip before their initial ground assault there, and many Gazans have subsequently relocated to the southern side of the strip. As the Israeli military has moved its operations south, President Joe Biden’s administration has raised concerns civilians are running out of places to go amid struggles to get over to the Egyptian side of the border.

The Egyptian government has been reluctant to accept refugees fleeing the Gaza Strip, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arguing this fall that Israel’s military operations since Oct. 7 appear to be an effort to compel the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip to migrate entirely out of Israel and undermine their claim to a Palestinian state.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land,” the Egyptian president said in October.
The Egyptian president had called for the Israeli side to take in the Gazan civilians until “the militants are dealt with.”
When asked whether the Biden administration would favor an Israeli military assault on Rafah, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “We would not support the undertaking of something like this without serious and credible planning as it relates to the more than a million people who are sheltering there, as well as without considering the impacts on humanitarian assistance and the safe departure of foreign nationals as well.” Mr. Patel said the United States has not seen evidence of serious planning for how Israeli forces will handle an assault in Rafah.

“To do any kind of such thing right now with no planning and little thought in an area where more than a million people are sheltering, an area that is a key conduit for humanitarian aid entering Gaza, a key conduit for the safe departure of foreign nationals, that would be a disaster,” Mr. Patel continued. “It’s not something that we would support, and [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] made that clear to [Mr. Netanyahu].”

.