Netanyahu pushes back on international concerns about an attack on Rafah

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against the alarm that’s been raised by key allies, world leaders and aid agencies as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Rafah in Gaza.

“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu said during an interview airing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Netanyahu on Friday announced that he
had ordered his military
to prepare a plan to evacuate Rafah, a key corridor for humanitarian assistance in southern Gaza where Palestinians had previously been told to flee to for safety.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby warned the U.S. would not support Israel’s assault on the region, warning that a military operation would be a “disaster” for civilians there. In an
interview with NPR
, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that a military operation in the city “cannot proceed” under current conditions.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed a similar sentiment,
saying in a post on X
that an operation in Rafah would “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences.”

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a
post on X
that an offensive on Rafah would have “catastrophic consequences, worsening the already dire humanitarian situation and the unbearable civilian toll.”

But Netanyahu on Sunday made an effort to minimize the scale of such an invasion, noting that Rafah is “a very small percentage of Gaza.” An estimated 1.4 million people are currently in the area.

Netanyahu also said his administration has cleared a region north of Rafah and is “working out a detailed plan” to provide civilians with a place to go.

“We’re not cavalier about this, this is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’ effort to keep them in harm’s way. But we’ve so far succeeded, and we’re going to succeed again,” Netanyahu said.

Over 28,000 people have
so far been killed
by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry. Thousands have been injured and millions more have been displaced. At least
224 Israeli soldiers
have been killed, according to Israeli military officials, in addition to the casualties suffered in Hamas’ incursion Oct. 7.

This post was originally published on Politico

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