Israel Begins Evacuating Rafah Residents as Ground Operation Looms

Israel plans ground operation in Rafah to pressure Hamas into hostage negotiations, as 6-month Israel-Gaza war rages on, sparking tensions with US and Netanyahu's allies.

Hadeel Hashem
New Update
Israel Begins Evacuating Rafah Residents as Ground Operation Looms

Israel Begins Evacuating Rafah Residents as Ground Operation Looms

On April 30, 2024, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel has begun evacuating residents of Rafah in preparation for a ground operation targeting Hamas brigades. The goal of this operation is to pressure Hamas into hostage negotiations.

The ongoing Israel-Gaza war has been raging for six months, with tensions spilling into the surrounding region. The war began on October 7 when Hamas militants launched an unprecedented cross-border attack on Israel that included the taking of civilian hostages. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and launched a ground invasion that has fueled the biggest displacement in the region since Israel's creation in 1948.

The conflict has been devastating for the Gaza Strip, with Israel waging one of this century's most destructive wars, killing tens of thousands and plunging at least half of the population into 'famine-like conditions.' Despite tensions between Israel and some U.S. politicians, the United States continues to support Israel with weapons, funds, and aid packages, and has vetoed or abstained from United Nations' cease-fire resolutions.

Why this matters: The planned incursion into Rafah has faced pressure from Netanyahu's nationalist governing partners and has been discussed in a phone call between President Biden and Netanyahu. The situation in Gaza remains tense as the war approaches the seven-month mark, with over 34,000 Palestinian casualties and around 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million driven from their homes, according to local health officials.

Netanyahu is facing mounting protests and criticism over his handling of the war. The fate of the remaining 130 hostages held by Hamas has become a major political issue, with families accusing Netanyahu of prioritizing his own political survival over securing their release. Netanyahu's far-right allies, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, are putting pressure on him to reject a new Gaza ceasefire proposal, jeopardizing the stability of his government.

A ceasefire deal would involve the release of a few dozen hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. The rejection of such a deal could lead to the dissolution of Netanyahu's government, as Smotrich and Ben-Gvir's parties hold enough seats to bring down the government.

The United States has warned that it does not support a ground offensive in Rafah, citing the risk of disaster. President Biden has criticized Israel's military response, saying it has been 'over the top' and caused the deaths of many innocent civilians. The UN has also expressed alarm at the prospect of a major Israeli operation in Rafah, warning that it would 'exponentially increase' the humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu has pledged to launch the incursion into Rafah and eliminate Hamas' battalions there, with or without a deal, to achieve 'total victory.' He stated, "Israel will enter Rafah and eliminate Hamas' battalions there, with or without a deal." The operation is seen as critical to destroying the militants and pressuring Hamas into hostage negotiations.

Key Takeaways

  • Israel begins evacuating Rafah residents for ground op to pressure Hamas into hostage talks.
  • Israel-Gaza war rages for 6 months, causing massive displacement since Israel's 1948 creation.
  • US continues to support Israel despite tensions, vetoing UN ceasefire resolutions.
  • Netanyahu faces protests, criticism over handling of war and hostage crisis, risking govt.
  • Israel plans Rafah incursion to destroy Hamas, despite US, UN warnings of humanitarian crisis.