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IDF Deepens Grip in Gaza

Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 10, 2024. (Credit: IDF)

Israel has put forward an evacuation plan for the residents of the southern Gaza city of Rafah ahead of the IDF’s offensive against the last bastion of the Hamas terrorist group in the Strip.

The proposal was presented to the Egyptians in recent days, as Cairo would be in charge of setting up the camps and field hospitals, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

It envisions 15 campsites of around 25,000 tents at each site (375,000 tents in total) where displaced Gazans will be relocated along the coast of the Strip running from Al-Mawasi (in the area of the former Gush Katif) close to Rafah to Sheikh Ijlin (also spelled Sheikh Ajleen), a neighborhood in southern Gaza City.

Citing Egyptian officials, the Journal report said that the camps, which would include medical clinics, are expected to be funded by the United States and its Arab partners. The Egyptians would coordinate with Israel to decide how wounded Palestinians could exit Gaza.

Israel Defense Forces troops operate in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 12, 2024. (Credit: IDF)

 

An Israeli delegation was in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday to discuss the latest hostage release deal being proposed, while also talking about the upcoming IDF operation in Gaza’s southernmost city to dismantle the last Hamas battalions and destroy the weapons-smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egyptian border.

A successful rescue operation of two Israeli hostages early Monday in Rafah underscores the importance of the Hamas stronghold to Israel’s goal of freeing the remaining 134 hostages held by the terrorist group, with many believed to be in Rafah.

While the IDF has been instructed to prepare for the Rafah incursion following its conquest of nearby Khan Yunis, international concern has increased about the civilians sheltered there.

According to Israel, there are four Hamas battalions positioned in the city along the Egyptian border, the population of which has swelled to some 1.5 million, more than half of Gaza’s total of 2.3 million, after the Israel Defense Forces directed northern Gazans to a humanitarian zone there when fighting began in October.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday that Israel “should not proceed” with a military operation in Rafah without a plan for the civilians sheltering in the area.

Israel Defense Forces troops operate in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 12, 2024. (Credit: IDF)

 

Conquering Rafah is essential to defeating Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated.

“Victory is within reach. We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we’re going to do it,” the premier told ABC News in an interview that aired on Sunday.

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