Fears of an Israeli military attack on Rafah are growing

But Washington said there was still no “major ground offensive” in Rafah. EU Council President Charles Michel described Israel’s command of the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as “unacceptable”. On the online service X, he explained: “We call on the Israeli government to respect international humanitarian law and urge it not to conduct a ground operation in Rafah.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned the Israeli government on Saturday against a military attack on Rafah. Such a maneuver would be “irresponsible,” he told an event organized by the Editorial Network Germany (RND). He did not believe this was possible “without incredible human losses”.

Since Monday, some 300,000 people have moved from the Gaza Strip to the humanitarian zone in al-Mawasi, the Israeli military said on Saturday. Meanwhile, Islamist Hamas released another video of a hostage-taking in the Gaza Strip.

As part of its crackdown on the radical Islamist Palestinian Authority, the army earlier expanded the districts to be evacuated in East Rafah. The army urged residents of Rafah to leave the eastern and central parts of the city “immediately”. The request was published in Arabic on the online service

Residents of Rafah said they were asked by the Israeli army to move to a “humanitarian zone” in the coastal town of al-Mawasi, about 10 kilometers away, via text and voice messages on X and cell phones.

Images on online networks showed leaflets with the latest call, which the army said it had distributed in affected areas. Accordingly, evictions affect parts of the Shabura refugee camp and the districts of Jenina and Khirbet al-Adas.

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According to military spokesman Adrey, the evacuation order also applies to people in Jabalija and Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. A separate statement said they were in a “dangerous war zone”. “Hamas is trying to rebuild its capabilities in this area,” Adraee said. Therefore, “Army will act with utmost force against terrorist organizations in this region”.

The Israeli army called on residents of East Rafah to leave the area on Monday. According to its own information, it has also initiated an evacuation operation of “limited scope”. Despite international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sticking to plans for a ground offensive in Rafah.

Israel sees Rafah as the last bastion of radical Islamist Hamas. According to Israeli sources, the operation is also aimed at freeing hostages believed to be there from the control of Hamas. More than a million people have fled fighting on the Egyptian border.

UNRWA, the UN’s Palestine relief agency, said families were packing their belongings across the city, and an UNRWA staff member wrote on Saturday that “the streets are substantially empty.”

Meanwhile, the Hamas-controlled Health Authority said 34,971 Palestinians had been killed and another 78,641 wounded since the Gaza war began. In the last 24 hours, 28 people were killed and 69 injured. This information could not be independently verified. The authority does not distinguish between civilians and armed combatants in its information. Israel denies the figures.

However, the UAE has clearly rejected Netanyahu’s involvement in future local civil governance in the Gaza Strip under Israeli protectorate rule. Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Sajid made it clear to X on Saturday that his country would not allow itself to be dragged into any plan to “cover up Israel’s presence in the Gaza Strip.”

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Netanyahu said in a recent interview with an American television channel that if Hamas is defeated, there will be “some kind of civilian administration” with the help of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries. In 2020, the Emirates became the first Gulf state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

On Saturday, Hamas’ armed wing released another hostage video. An 11-second recording of the Essedine al-Kassam Brigades, posted on the online channel Telegram, shows a man with a puffy eye and forced speech in front of a white tiled wall. A text below reads: ‚ÄúTime is running out. Your government is lying.

Israeli media initially did not comment on the new clip. Hamas released similar hostage videos last April. Israel condemns these publications as psychological warfare.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip. AFP reporters reported that Israeli attacks were carried out from south to north of the area on Saturday. At least 21 people were killed in the attack in central Gaza, a hospital said. In Rafah, witnesses witnessed intense airstrikes near the border crossing with Egypt.

On Friday, the Israeli military reported another rocket attack from the Gaza Strip. Nine rockets were fired from the Rafah area and another five from the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva, 40 kilometers from the center of the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip was triggered by an unprecedented major attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7. Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, and other militant Palestinian groups have occupied Israeli cities and committed atrocities against civilians.

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According to Israeli reports, they killed about 1,170 people and took 250 hostages to the Gaza Strip. According to Israeli reports, 128 hostages are still being held by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups. 36 of them are said to have already died.

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