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Plan for “urgent evacuation” of civilians ahead of Israeli attack on Rafah

THE Israeli army unveils plan for “urgent evacuation” of civilian population from “hostilities zones” in Gaza Stripannounced today the services of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who always declares that he is determined to order an attack on Rafah, where some one and a half million displaced Gazans have taken refuge.

The governments of many countries, including that of the US, Israel's main ally, as well as humanitarian organizations, have warned against a ground operation in the city, where most of the population of the Palestinian enclave, which has been displaced more than once in the majority, has been camped. of, and is experiencing extremely precarious conditions.

The city, on the closed border with Egypt, is also a key entry point for humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

The army “presented to the wartime government a plan for the rapid evacuation of populations from the fighting zones in the Gaza Strip, as well as a plan for future operations,” the Israeli prime minister's office said in a terse statement, without elaborating.

It is not clear where they will be led, nor how.

As talks for a new truce resumed in Qatar, Mr Netanyahu has announced that he will order a ground attack on Rafah, which he describes as the “last stronghold” of the Islamist movement Hamas.

The attack will not be “delayed”, even if an agreement is reached for a second armistice, he told the American television network CBS yesterday.

By launching this operation, Israel will be “a few weeks” away from “total victory” over Hamas, he assured.

Overnight, there was fresh shelling in Rafah, while fighting raged in the largely flattened Khan Younis, a few kilometers to the north. The Hamas Health Ministry spoke of 92 dead in the night bombings. The press service of the government of the Islamic movement emphasized that 15 members of the same family were killed when a house in Gaza City was hit.

Since the outbreak of the war, which was triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7, the Gaza Strip, under Israeli siege, has suffered a massive humanitarian disaster, with 2.2 million people, the vast majority of the population, at risk with “mass famine”, as the UN emphasizes.

Pet food

Yesterday, an AFP correspondent found, hundreds of people fled the northern Gaza Strip because of hunger. Some 300,000 people in this sector are at risk of starvation, according to United Nations estimates.

International humanitarian aid for civilians in the Gaza Strip, the passage of which is subject to Israeli approval, goes mostly through Egypt to Rafah — by the dropper. Deliveries in the northern part of the enclave are practically impossible due to the destruction and fighting.

In its statement, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office also noted that the wartime government also approved a plan to distribute aid in a way that would “prevent looting,” without elaborating.

Gazans confided that in the last days they eat plant leaves, animal feed, they are forced to kill animals to feed themselves.

“Within the next ten days, many people will die. He will die of hunger, not because of the bombings,” predicted Marouane Awadia, a local resident.

“Killing and starving our people is a crime, it is genocide that threatens the negotiation process,” a Hamas official in the northern Gaza Strip said.

Famine can still be “avoided” if Israel allows humanitarian organizations to distribute aid in large quantities, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philip Lazzarini, said yesterday. .

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas' military wing launched an unprecedented offensive against southern Israel, killing more than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. About 250 others were abducted, of whom more than 130 remain hostages in the Gaza Strip — but a military spokesman said recently that at least 31 of them are believed to be dead.

Israel's civil-military leadership vowed after the attack to “wipe out” Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, which the US and EU label a “terrorist” organization. The Israeli military's retaliatory operations have cost the lives of at least 29,692 people in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them women and children, according to the Hamas Health Ministry.

“Field of understanding”?

Concern for the fate of civilians in Rafa in the event of a ground attack on Rada is intensifying.

“There are locations” where civilians can “go,” to the north, where “we finished the fighting,” Mr. Netanyahu told CBS.

Mediating countries simultaneously try to convince the parties to conclude a compromise agreement for a new armistice.

Representatives of Qatar, Egypt, the US, Israel and Hamas resumed negotiations in Doha yesterday, which will be followed by “meetings in Cairo”, according to Al Cairo, a television network believed to be linked to Egyptian intelligence.

The White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told CNN yesterday that “areas of agreement” had been found in the recent talks in Paris, speaking of an “outline” for the possible release of hostages and a “temporary ceasefire”.

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is expected either tomorrow Tuesday or the day after Wednesday in Paris to inform French President Emmanuel Macron about the progress of the negotiations.

According to an AFP source in Hamas, the implementation of the “first phase” of the plan drawn up in January in Paris is being discussed. It calls for a six-week truce, an exchange of hostages with Palestinian prisoners in Israel and more humanitarian aid entering the enclave.

Hamas wants ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza Strip, to lift the Israeli blockade and offer safe haven to the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war. Israel, for its part, declares that the war will continue until Hamas is eliminated, and demands the return of all hostages.

Source: News Beast

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