Netanyahu Determined to Move Million Civilians in Rafah, Despite Challenges

The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is determined to move forward with a plan to relocate a million or more civilians from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip before commencing an attack on the city, which is currently controlled by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Israeli officials acknowledge in private that they have no clear strategy for executing the relocation project, including timelines or destinations for the civilians.

The prime minister ordered the preparation of a plan for the civilian evacuation and has stated that it will be presented shortly. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders view this as an inflection point in their efforts to dismantle Hamas' military structure and find the remaining 100 Israeli hostages held by the group. They believe that achieving these goals is only possible in Rafah, where they think between 5,000 and 8,000 Hamas fighters and leaders, as well as hostages, are hiding in tunnels.

The Israeli military has reportedly made progress in recent operations in Gaza, including breaking the military structure of two of Hamas' five fighting brigades and disrupting rocket and missile launches. Nevertheless, the ongoing operation has also resulted in a significant humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with a dire situation for civilians who have sought refuge in Rafah. South Africa has accused Israel of genocide, and Israel's continued offensive has caused concern among allies, including the US, over the humanitarian situation.

Israeli officials insist that the operation in Rafah will occur regardless of the humanitarian situation, and they have rejected calls for a cease-fire with Hamas. With Israel's military operations continuing, the US and other allies are increasingly alarmed about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and have pressed Israel for details on its plans to move civilians north of Rafah.

Israeli officials claim that Ramadan, which begins on March 10, will not interfere with their military operations. They argue that ending the war against Hamas as soon as possible would allow citizens to feel secure again and initiate discussions on regional security strategies. Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Hamas-backed militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria may react violently to an Israeli attack on Rafah, adding to the geopolitical upheaval.

The Israeli parliament has passed a resolution rejecting the imposition of a Palestinian state on Israel, suggesting that Netanyahu has the support needed to continue his stance. Despite ongoing operations, officials believe that Israel is getting closer to achieving its objectives of dismantling Hamas' military structure and locating the remaining hostages.

Nevertheless, there are concerns about the continued violence and the impact on Israel's relations with Arab states and the broader international community. Ultimately, achieving these goals in Rafah may not lead to a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, highlighting the complicated nature of the conflict and the challenges ahead.

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