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Top officials visit Egypt to discuss Rafah ground offensive, Israel media claims

April 24, 2024 at 7:25 pm

Herzi Halevi, Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army near Ben Gurion Airport in Lod on March 9, 2023 GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Top Israeli intelligence and military officials visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials ahead of a planned ground attack in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli media claimed on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

Head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency, Ronen Bar, and Army Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, visited the Egyptian capital to discuss a looming ground offensive in Rafah, the Israeli public broadcaster KAN said, citing a report in American news website, Axios.

The broadcaster, however, did not provide any further details about the visit.

There was no comment from the Egyptian authorities on the claim.

On Tuesday, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, denied a report by the Wall Street Journal that Cairo had discussed with Israel its plans to invade Rafah.

READ: Israel gears up for Rafah civilian evacuation ahead of promised assault

Rashwan reiterated Egypt’s opposition to any Israeli ground attack in Rafah, warning that it would lead to significant human casualties and widespread destruction.

He stressed that Egypt has repeatedly warned Israel through various channels against carrying out any ground offensive in Rafah.

Despite international warnings about a planned Israeli invasion of Rafah, the Israeli army insists on going ahead with attacking the tiny city, which is home to nearly 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Last week, an Israeli government spokesperson said Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, set a date for invading Rafah, the last remaining area in Gaza where Israel has not yet formally announced the entry of its troops to continue the onslaught against the Palestinians.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, on 7 October Oct. 7 last year, which Tel Aviv says killed nearly 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

At least 34,262 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and 77,200 others injured, according to local health authorities.

More than six months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85 per cent of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Egypt denies discussing invasion of Rafah with Israel