Where Is Rafah? Map Shows Israel’s Next Attack | NEWSWEEK

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Where Is Rafah? Map Shows Israel’s Next Attack | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Natalie Venegas for NEWSWEEK.

Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, a map shows where Israel’s next attack will happen as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Tuesday to launch an attack into the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Speculation has been mounting over what will happen in the next stage of Israel’s war against Hamas. It follows months of bombardment of Gaza after the Palestinian militant group’s October 7, 2023, raid into southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 were abducted.

Since then, officials in Gaza say at least 34,000 have been killed in the territory. Netanyahu and his governing partners say Rafah is Hamas’ last major stronghold, but it is also where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are sheltering and the international community has warned against any offensive that risks civilians.

In a statement released by Netanyahu’s office on Tuesday, the prime minister said Israel would proceed with its planned attack against Rafah with or without a ceasefire deal that would also include the release of hostages.

“The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” Netanyahu said. “We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there—with or without a deal, in order to achieve the total victory.”

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has approved final plans for an attack on Rafah and has made arrangements for the evacuation of civilians, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported. Meanwhile, Netanyahu said “we have begun the evacuation of the population in the city.”

However, Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East denied that such an evacuation was underway but said “there is an extraordinary deep anxiety prevailing right now in Gaza.”

The announcement came hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was expected to arrive in Israel to continue with ceasefire talks.

The most recent deal is meant to free hostages, bring some relief to the population in Gaza and avoid an Israeli offensive into Rafah and the potential harm to civilians there.

On Monday, Blinken had urged Hamas to accept the latest ceasefire proposal, saying Israel had made an “extraordinarily generous” offer and that it was up to Hamas to accept it.

President Joe Biden urged Israel not to open a military offensive in Rafah during a phone call with Netanyahu on Sunday, fearing it could result in large-scale civilian casualties.

“We don’t want to see a major ground operation in Rafah. Certainly, we don’t want to see operations that haven’t factored in the safety and security of those 1.5 million folks trying to seek refuge down there. And we’ve conveyed that to our Israeli counterparts,” John Kirby, the White House spokesman on national security issues said on Sunday.

However, former Israeli Intelligence official and regional analyst Avi Melamed previously told Newsweek that “both the Israeli public and Hamas have shown indicators of understanding that the IDF operation in Rafah is likely to commence imminently.

“It is also very clear that Western leaders understand the imminency of the Israeli operation and have thus renewed their unified demand that Hamas release the hostages it holds,” he said.

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Where Is Rafah? Map Shows Israel’s Next Attack | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Natalie Venegas for NEWSWEEK.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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