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Report: Israel reviewing alternatives to Rafah invasion

May 3, 2024 at 11:52 am

Palestinians who left their homes and took refuge in Rafah try to survive under harsh conditions in makeshift tents they set up in the empty land as Israeli attacks continue on Gaza on April 22, 2024 [Hani Alshaer/Anadolu Agency]

Israel is looking into alternatives for its planned ground invasion of Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, local media reported yesterday.

“Security services are examining alternatives to a large-scale operation in Rafah, if this operation does not take place,” Army Radio said.

Despite growing international opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to invade Rafah, home to more than 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Rafah is the last remaining area in the Gaza Strip where Israel has not carried out a ground invasion, though it has targeted the area with missile strikes which have killed scores of civilians.

“The Israeli security services insist on launching an operation at the Philadelphi Corridor [on the border between Gaza and Egypt] to cut off Hamas’ smuggling routes,” the radio station said.

Citing Israeli sources, it added that Tel Aviv will be prepared to positively consider a complete withdrawal from the Netzarim axis in central Gaza as part of a ceasefire deal that includes a prisoner swap.

Named after the Netzarim settlement which was dismantled in Gaza in 2005, the Israeli army built the seven-kilometre-long corridor to separate northern Gaza from the south.

Hamas, which is believed to be holding more than 130 Israeli prisoners of war, has demanded an end to Israel’s ongoing offensive on Gaza in return for any hostage deal with Tel Aviv.

Israel has waged an unrelenting offensive on the Palestinian enclave since 7 October, killing over 34,600 Palestinians and injuring more than 77,800, the vast majority children and women.

Vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, with 85 per cent of the enclave’s population internally displaced amid a crippling blockade which has led to a “man-made famine”.

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.

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