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Israel’s War Cabinet Minister threatens Rafah invasion unless hostages released

Benny Gantz, Israel’s War Cabinet Minister, warns of a potential invasion in Rafah during Ramadan unless Hamas releases hostages. Gantz emphasizes coordination with American and Egyptian partners to minimize civilian casualties.



Israel's War Cabiner Minister, Benny Gantz.
(Photo: Benny Gantz on Instagram)

Israel’s War Cabinet Minister, Benny Gantz, has issued a threat to invade Rafah, a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan if hostages held by Hamas are not released, according to Anadolu news agency.

Gantz delivered this message during a conference in Jerusalem, stating that Hamas has the choice to surrender, release the hostages, and allow the Palestinians in Gaza to celebrate Ramadan peacefully.

The Israeli army plans to launch a ground attack in Rafah, a city with over 1.4 million residents seeking refuge from the ongoing conflict, aiming to defeat what Israel refers to as the remaining “Hamas battalions.”

Many Palestinians have sought shelter in Rafah as Israel has intensified its bombardment across the enclave since 7 October 2023.

The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed nearly 29,000 victims and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Gantz, a former defence minister, mentioned that the invasion of Rafah would be coordinated with American and Egyptian partners to minimize civilian casualties.

“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know. If by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will be extended to the Rafah area,” he added.

Hamas is suspected of holding over 130 Israeli hostages after its cross-border attack, an incident that Israel reports resulted in the death of nearly 1,200 people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to launch a ground assault on Rafah to eliminate Hamas gunmen there despite international pressure.

Netanyahu challenges critics of Rafah entry

The Prime Minister pushed back Saturday (17 Feb) on growing calls from world leaders to avoid a ground operation in Rafah, saying doing so would mean losing the war against Hamas.

“Those who want to prevent us from operating in Rafah are essentially telling us: ‘Lose the war.’ I won’t let that happen,” he vowed at an evening press conference in Jerusalem.

“We won’t capitulate to any pressure,” he added.

Netanyahu conveyed that he informed US President Joe Biden of Israel’s commitment to fighting until “total victory,” which includes action in Rafah.

However, he emphasized that any IDF operation in Gaza’s southernmost city would occur only after ensuring civilians have the opportunity to “evacuate to safe areas.”

Egypt builds border wall amid refugee concerns due to Israel’s Rafah offensive

Egypt is constructing a border wall with Gaza amid concerns about a potential influx of Palestinian refugees due to Israel’s planned ground offensive in Rafah.

An engineer and a contractor confirmed they were tasked with building a 16-foot wall commissioned by the Egyptian Army, covering approximately three square miles.

The construction is “intended to create a high-security gated and isolated area near the borders with the Gaza Strip, in preparation for the reception of Palestinian refugees in the case of mass exodus,” the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights posted on X (16 Feb).

The construction appears to be Egypt’s latest effort to prevent Palestinians from crossing the border.

An estimated over 100,000 displaced Palestinians are residing in encampments at the Egyptian border.

There are concerns that the escalation of bombing in Rafah might compel them to seek refuge in Sinai.

To curb entry, Egypt has increased its security presence at the Gaza border, deploying more troops, and machinery, and reinforcing checkpoints with additional soldiers.

The main road is being prepared for tank and military machinery deployment, further intensifying security measures.

Egypt has warned of “grave consequences” in response to an Israeli military operation in Rafah, potentially jeopardizing its longstanding peace deal with Israel.

Global leaders urge Israel to halt Rafah offensive

World leaders are increasing pressure on Israel to abandon its plans for a ground offensive in Rafah, as an exodus from the southern Gaza city, once declared a “safe zone” sheltering over half the enclave’s population, is currently underway.

Australia, Canada, and New Zealand issued a joint statement on Thursday (15 Feb), urging for an “immediate” humanitarian ceasefire.

In a rare joint statement, global leaders appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, emphasizing the severe risks of proceeding with the military operation.

The statement highlighted the dire situation in Rafah, where approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are currently seeking refuge amid escalating violence.

The leaders expressed their concern that a military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron emphasized that Israel should “stop and think seriously” before launching its ground invasion of Rafah, expressing concerns about the impossibility of waging war among the civilian population with nowhere for them to go.

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said any Rafah operation could generate “unmitigated humanitarian catastrophe”.

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Unbelievable! A proposal by Algeria has a clause to “Forgot that the 7-Oct attack ever happened”. Such negotiators must be real idiots.

just finished off the radicals. dragging too long. Why Hamas are still hiding like rats? tsk tsk tsk

So Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis all attacking Israel is called genocide? tsk tsk tsk

There is NO palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank.

There can Only be the bedouins and nomads there.

Their neighbours Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt also dislike them shutting tight their borders.

They view them as problematic parasites.

Maybe they can seek refuge in the Central Asia Muslim countries like the 7 Stans.

Vast expanse of land for these Bedouins and nomadic tribes who are bullying the Israelites.

The Israeli govt. up to date has not listed the names and nationality of all those held hostage by the various militant groups. It has also not revealed the actual numbers of those who died, their names and nationality. It has yet to reveal how many actually died on Oct.7th 2023 because of its own combatants. When making demands of this nature, an exact nos. plus names must be published. The fact that it is missing shows that this is just an act to whitewash the hideous act of massacre and genocide that is going to take place in Rafah… Read more »

If the Palestinians really want to end this conflict QUICKLY, they only have to hand over the remaining hostages and the Hamas leaders hiding like cowards among the civilians. It is the Palestinians/Gazans continual support of terrorism within their ranks that keeps fueling such conflicts in that region – this wouldn’t be the last and probably wouldn’t be the worse to come.

Yes, GG will raise more funds for these displaced Palestinians. tsk tsk tsk

The Bedouins and nomads in Rafah no where to go ?
Why not considering crossing over into Gilbert Goh’s house ?
I am sure He will welcome them with loving arms.