When is an Israeli attack on Rafah likely?

Israeli public opinion clearly supports the hostage rescue agreement. But the government’s voices echoed against the prevailing view that “hostages come first”. A “high-level voice” reported directly from the prime minister’s official residence: “The war continues and the army will take action against Hamas in Rafah.” This immediately hardened Hamas’ position in the negotiations. So far they are about the gradual implementation of transfer agreements. This eventually leads to a cessation of hostilities. Hamas is now demanding immediate guarantees to end the fighting. Even without Hamas relinquishing power as Israel demands. Israeli Defense Minister Jove Gallant: “This means we have no other choice and we must move forward against Rafa.”

The situation is still dire

Since Sunday, Israel’s military has again sent text messages and leaflets directly to civilians in the Gaza Strip. This time they were to leave the war zone near Rafah towards the northwest. After the war began, hundreds of thousands of people were sent to Rafah to escape the fighting in the north. They live in makeshift tent camps. Although their care has improved slightly recently, conditions are still devastating. A large landing stage for the delivery of aid is currently being built with US assistance. But it won’t be ready until the end of May.

From a distance, the battle drum sounds a little more humming on both sides. CIA Director William Burns regularly travels between Israel, Qatar and Egypt. America is not just concerned with the hostage treaty. They are also monitoring the tense situation along the Lebanese border. Ultimately, the aim is to avoid the escalation of the war in Gaza into a regional conflict with Iran.

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Israel’s military said on Monday that the possible attack “would not directly affect the town of Rafah”. Even so, their products still take weeks. So far, the military announcements appear to be an attempt to pressure Hamas, and Sinwar in particular, to be more willing to compromise. Eliminating his last four terrorist forces would greatly weaken the power of Sinwar and Hamas in Gaza. On the other hand, Israel’s public also knows that the offensive against Rafa will not bring about the “total victory and elimination of Hamas” that Netanyahu has declared. There is still time and place for agreement.

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