IDF Prepared to Capture Gaza’s Rafah, Awaiting Government Approval

By Yoni Weiss

A rows of tents built near Rafah in Gaza on Tuesday. (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

The IDF has completed all necessary preparations to seize control of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, and is ready to initiate the operation pending approval from the government, a senior Israeli defense official said on Wednesday.

Rafah is regarded by Israel as the final stronghold of Hamas within the Gaza Strip. The official, who remained unnamed, said that Israel is prepared to evacuate Palestinian civilians from the area and confront remaining Hamas elements.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s administration told Reuters that Israel is “progressing” with plans for a ground operation but did not provide a specific timeline.

Meanwhile, multiple Israeli media reports indicated that senior Israeli security figures traveled to Egypt on Wednesday to coordinate the impending offensive in Rafah.

Among these officials were IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, according to Channel 13. Axios reported that the delegation met with Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Chief of Staff Osama Askar. There are concerns in Cairo that an offensive in Rafah could result in a humanitarian crisis, prompting tens of thousands of Gazans to attempt to cross the border into Egypt.

Egypt, which shares a border with Rafah, has cautioned Israel against entering the city. According to Egypt’s State Information Service, such action “would lead to massive human massacres, losses, and widespread destruction.”

Israel asserts that achieving victory in the Gaza war is contingent upon seizing control of Rafah, dismantling the Palestinian terror group, and rescuing all hostages held there.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF announced preparations to deploy two reserve brigades for operations in the Gaza Strip, likely as part of its strategy to dislodge Hamas from Rafah.

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