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Israeli PM wants IDF to draft plan on evacuation of civilians from Rafah

According to the prime minister's office, Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the IDF and security services to submit to the cabinet a two-pronged plan

TEL AVIV, February 9. /TASS/. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the country’s military to work out a plan to evacuate civilians from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and exterminate Hamas battalions still entrenched in the city.

"It is impossible to attain the goals of the war and exterminate Hamas when four Hamas battalions still remain in Rafah. On the other hand, it is obvious that a large-scale operation in Rafah required the evacuation of the civilian population from the zone of combat operations. This is why the prime minister instructed the IDF (Israel Defense Forces - TASS) and security services to submit to the cabinet a two-pronged plan: of both the evacuation of the population and the elimination of Hamas battalions," the prime minister’s office said.

Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State Vedant Patel said on February 8 that the United States did not think that Israel was acting appropriately while planning the military operation in Rafah and did not support it if Israel ignored the needs of Palestinians. He said that such an operation in an area populated by a million people would be a catastrophe.

On February 7, Netanyahu said that the Israeli military was ordered to prepare for an operation in the city of Rafah located near the border with Egypt.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier warned against Israel’s plans to expand its military operation in Gaza to Rafah, which gives shelter to thousands of Palestinians as this will only worsen the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

Tensions flared up again in the Middle East on October 7 after militants from the Gaza Strip-based radical Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise incursion on Israeli territory, killing many Israeli kibbutz residents living near the Gaza border and abducting more than 240 Israelis, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas described its attack as a response to Israeli authorities’ aggressive actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel declared a total blockade of the Gaza Strip and launched bombardments of the enclave and some areas in Lebanon and Syria, as well as a ground operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Clashes are also reported in the West Bank.