Israeli Invasion of Rafah Imminent

Signs are pointing to the Israeli invasion of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, beginning soon. The proposition of the invasion has been highly controversial.

Imminent Invasion

The IDF has began dropping leaflets on eastern areas of Rafah, and published maps online ordering civilians within the area to evacuate. The map shows red zones within Rafah, and areas within Gaza that civilians are to evacuate to in order to escape an impending invasion.

Israeli Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant, reportedly held an overnight phone conversation with the US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, in which he stated that Israel had “no choice” but to invade Rafah. The US has stated on multiple occasions that they are opposed to the invasion. US and Israeli officials have clashed on the issue on multiple occasions.

There is no definitive time that the invasion will begin, however Israeli strikes on areas in and around Rafah have been increasing lately, and with evacuations beginning, it is likely to be soon. Several weeks ago Netanyahu stated he had set a date for the invasion.

A Controversial Operation

The Israeli ground invasion of Rafah has been on the horizon for many weeks now. While Israel has remained insistent that it is a necessity, many different nations, including many traditional Israeli allies, have condemned the prospect.

Rafah, which lies in the very south of Gaza, was previously established earlier in the war by Israel to be a safe zone. As such, it has become host to approximately 1.4 million people; over half of Gaza’s population.

Additionally, Rafah is a key basing ground for humanitarian operations in Gaza. It is situated on the Egypt/Gaza border, and is the primary entry point for trucks entering Gaza. It is further host to a number of UNRWA camps. The UNRWA, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, have stated an Israeli operation in Rafah would be the “nail in the coffin” for humanitarian operations in Gaza, which were already severely harmed.

The Rafah border crossing in 2021 (Photo from AFP).

Israel has stated that the operation is necessary in order to destroy Hamas’ last remaining battalions. Netanyahu has claimed there are approximately four battalions left in Gaza, numbering thousands of militants. Furthermore, Israel believes many of the remaining approximately 130 hostages (of which, over 30 are believed to have died) are being held within Rafah.

The operation has been controversial due to the extremely high civilian presence within Gaza, as well as the effect an operation is sure to have upon humanitarian operations.  The US, among others, have claimed that the operation would be too costly in civilian lives.

It is unclear how effective evacuations will be in getting civilians out of harms way. Previously, in other evacuations, some civilians chose not to evacuate due to attacks and bombings ongoing on supposed evacuation routes, as well as within ‘safe zones’.

Faltering Negotiations

The invasion also notably comes after Israel refused to send a delegation to ongoing hostage/ceasefire negotiations in Cairo, Egypt. Israel had initially refused to send a delegation until Hamas gave an answer concerning a temporary ceasefire proposal they had made.

A Hamas official reportedly stated that they were “close” to reaching a hostage deal, however the evacuation, and impending invasion, would cause hostage deal negotiations to cease.

It is unlikely that the two were close to securing a deal, however. Israel and Hamas have presented a series of absolutes in their negotiations, absolutes which the other side has determined unacceptable.

Most prominently, Hamas is seeking a permanent ceasefire, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. Israel, on the other hand, is seeking only a temporary ceasefire, after which they will continue the war in order to “destroy Hamas.”

Negotiations have been ongoing for many weeks, without any meaningful ground being made.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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