JERUSALEM, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided Rafah City early Monday morning and rescued two Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. The raids have killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry.
Analysts warned that Israeli military operations in Rafah, including raids and the potential large-scale invasion, are bound to trigger a more serious humanitarian crisis and tense the regional situation.
HUMANITARIAN CRISIS WORSEN
The Israeli army confirmed on Monday morning that it launched a joint operation with other special forces and rescued two hostages who were abducted by Hamas on October 7, 2023. There was heavy exchange of fire with Hamas militants during the raids, while aerial fire was also activated, according to a military statement.
As a result of airstrikes, the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah is "overwhelmed with seriously wounded patients and lacks sufficient medications and supplies," the official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted the hospital director as saying.
Since the conflict broke out, Israel has been urging civilians in the Strip to evacuate to safe areas in southern Gaza. As a result, over a million people poured into Rafah to seek shelter, most of them living in tents.
Now, Rafah is also set to become a battlefield. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday asked the IDF and security agencies to formulate a plan for ground operations in Rafah. He told ABC News on Saturday that Israel would "lose the war without entering Rafah."
Israeli intention of invading Rafah has been widely criticized at home and abroad. Israeli columnist Gideon Levy warned on Sunday that "it is impossible to invade Rafah now without committing war crimes."
The international community also strongly opposed Israel's attack plan. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that "indiscriminate bombing of densely populated areas may amount to war crimes" under international humanitarian law.
Regional countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain, voiced on Monday deep concern over the potential invasion.
Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is slated to visit Israel later this week, urged Israel to "alleviate the suffering of civilians as much as possible" in a post on her X account, saying an Israeli offensive on Rafah would be a humanitarian "catastrophe."
SITUATION MAY WORSEN
Analysts noted that due to the spillover of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the situation in the Middle East might become even worse.
Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah have been clashing in the border area since last October. Yemen's Houthi group frequently attacked ships associated with Israel and other Western countries in the Red Sea while the United States subsequently launched retaliatory actions. U.S. military also launched air strikes in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for attacks on its military bases in Jordan.
Palestinian political analyst Eyad Abu Zanit told Xinhua that the Israeli government's high-profile announcement of a ground attack on Rafah was a "political deception" to put pressure on Hamas and force it to make concessions in ceasefire negotiations. However, this trick may not lead to the expected result, as Hamas stated on Sunday that any attack on Rafah would torpedo the exchange negotiations.
Israel's massive attack on Rafah may further intensify its relations with Arab countries and plunge the regional security situation into greater turmoil, analysts have warned.
Israel's massive attack on Rafah may cause a large number of Palestinian refugees to flee to neighboring Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which Egypt has always strongly opposed. It is reported that Egypt has recently strengthened its military deployment in the Sinai Peninsula to maintain border security. ■