Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains steadfast in his determination to push forward with a ground offensive against the Gaza Strip’s southern town of Rafah, promising “safe passage” for the 1.3 million displaced civilians amid mounting warnings and international concerns.
Despite the escalating alarms raised by aid agencies and world leaders that an attack on Rafah could lead to a devastating humanitarian crisis, Netanyahu, in an interview with ABC News, reaffirmed his commitment to extend Israel’s military operations against Hamas into Rafah.
The southernmost city in Gaza, Rafah has become the last haven for over half of the region’s 2.4 million inhabitants as Israeli forces advance southward in their conflict with Hamas over the past several months.
International figures, including Germany, UK, and the US, have expressed deep concern over the potential consequences of an assault on Rafah, calling for immediate halts to the fighting to facilitate aid delivery and hostage negotiations.
Furthermore, the tension between Netanyahu and the Biden administration escalated as the Israeli premier announced plans for an operation in Rafah shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel, where ceasefire talks have hit a roadblock due to what Netanyahu described as “bizarre demands” from Hamas.
Amid these developments, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) came under scrutiny as the Israeli military claimed to have discovered a Hamas tunnel beneath the evacuated headquarters in Gaza City. Calls for the resignation of UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini followed, with the agency already facing accusations of staff involvement in Hamas attacks.
Meanwhile, public discontent in Israel has been on the rise, with protesters in Tel Aviv demanding the release of hostages, calling for Netanyahu’s resignation, and urging for fresh elections amidst the prolonged conflict.
In additional regional developments, a senior Hamas officer survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Lebanon, with casualties reported including a member of Hezbollah. Simultaneously, Israeli strikes near Damascus, targeting a neighborhood hosting high-profile military and civilian officials, resulted in casualties, according to a war monitor.
Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza continues to draw global attention and calls for de-escalation as the specter of further violence looms over the region.
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