Israel Prepares for Prolonged Offensive in Gaza Amid International Concerns”

As Israel gears up for an extended military campaign in Gaza, expected to last another six to eight weeks, the international community watches with bated breath. The focus of this intensive operation is Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, described by Israeli officials as the last stronghold of Hamas control. This strategic move comes amid escalating tensions and a humanitarian crisis that has captured global attention.

Israel’s determination to dismantle Hamas’ remaining capabilities in Rafah through a combination of full-scale military operations and targeted airstrikes has sparked fears of a deepening humanitarian catastrophe. With over a million Palestinian civilians trapped in the crosshairs, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant outlined the military’s objectives in Rafah, emphasizing efforts to minimize civilian casualties amidst the campaign against Hamas fighters, command centers, and tunnels.

Israeli soldiers use a camera to inspect what the military described as a Hamas command tunnel running partly under UNRWA headquarters, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, February 8, 2024.

The international community, including U.S. President Joe Biden, has voiced apprehension about the potential ground assault’s impact on civilian safety. Despite these concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains unyielding, asserting that the offensive is crucial for Israel’s victory and pledging safe passage for civilians ahead of the operation. However, the logistical challenge of relocating over a million people within the battered enclave raises daunting questions about the feasibility of such promises.

This military escalation follows a series of deadly exchanges initiated by Hamas on October 7, leading to significant casualties on both sides and pushing much of Gaza to the brink of destruction. The conflict has left more than 85% of Gaza’s population homeless, with many seeking refuge in Rafah, worsening the city’s capacity to accommodate the displaced.

Palestinians leave Rafah, in fear of an Israeli military operation, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, February 13, 2024.

Egypt’s role as a potential safe haven for fleeing Palestinians highlights the regional implications of the conflict, though official preparations for such an eventuality remain a topic of speculation.

The broader international discourse also contemplates the future governance of Gaza post-conflict, recognizing that any lasting solution must involve Hamas’ consent. Amidst calls for an independent Palestinian state, the narrative from Israeli officials starkly opposes the notion, framing the ongoing military actions as a tribute to the victims of Hamas’ initial assault.

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