Roundup: Israel ramps up preparations for Rafah ground operation: official-Xinhua

Roundup: Israel ramps up preparations for Rafah ground operation: official

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-25 02:59:30

JERUSALEM, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Israel's forces have intensified their preparations for a ground operation in Rafah, where about 1.2 million Gazans are taking refuge after conflicts broke out between Israel and Hamas, an Israeli government official confirmed to Xinhua on Wednesday.

The official, speaking anonymously, said the onslaught is expected to begin "soon," without providing further details on a specific date. According to the source, the operation is likely to span over four-to-six weeks.

Israel has updated the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden on its plans to launch an offensive in Rafah, the sources said, adding that the country has promised the administration that it will provide advance warnings to the civilians there and allow them to evacuate to tent camps being built in southern Gaza.

Satellite images circulating on social media showed multiple encampments with tents being erected in the areas between Rafah and the city of Khan Younis.

Earlier this month, Israeli government officials confirmed that the country had ordered tens of thousands of tents as part of the preparations for the offensive.

Israel has carried out massive airstrikes and shellings throughout the Gaza Strip since launching its retaliatory attack on Oct. 7, 2023.

At least 34,262 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, according to an update from the enclave's Health Ministry. Rafah has been struck from the air multiple times and has also sustained some ground attacks, though not as extensive as those conducted by Israel in other areas of the coastal enclave.

Netanyahu said earlier in April that Israel is determined to launch a ground offensive against Hamas battalions in Rafah, stating that "no power in the world" could prevent it. Netanyahu considers Rafah to be the last stronghold of Hamas and has emphasized that entering Rafah is essential for Israel to achieve its goal of "total victory" against Hamas.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army chief, Herzi Halevi, and Shin Bet internal security agency head, Ronen Bar, traveled to Cairo to meet Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Chief of Staff Osama Askar.

Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported that they discussed the planned ground operation in order to ease objections of Egypt, whose Sinai Desert borders the Rafah city. The operation could lead to an influx of refugees into Egypt, according to the report.

UN experts and several countries have warned that any ground operation in the city would have catastrophic consequences for the civilian population, which is already suffering from hunger and disease, as well as massive destruction inflicted by the war.