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Israel army chief, head of spy agency ‘secretly’ visited Egypt to discuss Rafah attack

February 27, 2024 at 10:57 am

Israel’s military chief Herzi Halevi attends an honour guard ceremony at the Israeli Defence Ministry in the mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, on January 16, 2023 [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet security agency Director Ronen Bar visited Egypt last week to discuss the Israeli army’s planned attack on Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, Axios news site reported, citing two US officials.

According to the Axios report, the secret visit aimed to reassure the Egyptian officials that the Israeli operation in Rafah will not create an influx of Palestinian refugees into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

More than 1.4 million Palestinians are currently sheltering in Rafah. Many of them had been displaced from other places in Gaza after Israel started its war on the besieged enclave.

Last night, the Israeli cabinet discussed the army’s plan to “evacuate civilians” from Rafah ahead of invading it, despite international warnings.

In statements to the US CBS network on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tel Aviv would delay the invasion of Rafah if a prisoner exchange deal were reached with Hamas.

“If we conclude the deal, the military operation in Rafah will be delayed a little, but if there is no deal, we will launch the military operation in Rafah,” Netanyahu confirmed.

“After we begin the military operation in Rafah, the military operation (war) in Gaza will end within several weeks. But Hamas’s last stronghold cannot be kept without dealing with it,” he claimed.

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