Why Israel is so determined to launch an offensive in Rafah

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Israel is determined to launch an offensive against Hamas in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town, a plan that has raised global alarm because of the potential for harm to the hundreds of thousands of civilians sheltering there.

Save money with these awesome Insider DealsPalestinians look at a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, March 20, 2024. Israel has approved military plans for its offensive. But with 1.4 million Palestinians jammed into the town, Israel's allies, including the U.S., have demanded greater care for civilians in its anticipated incursion.

Most of those Palestinians have been displaced by fighting in other parts of Gaza and are living in densely packed tent camps or crammed into apartments.in response to Hamas' deadly cross-border attack on Oct. 7, Netanyahu has said a central goal is to destroy the Islamic group's military capabilities.

Israel says Rafah is Hamas’ last major stronghold in the Gaza Strip, after operations elsewhere dismantled 18 out of the militant group’s 24 battalions, according to the military. Israel says Hamas has four battalions in Rafah and that it must send ground forces to topple them. Some senior militants could also be hiding in the town.The U.S. has urged Israel not to carry out the operation without a “credible” plan to evacuate civilians. Egypt, a strategic partner of Israel's, has said that any move to push Palestinians into Egypt would threaten its four-decade-old peace agreement with Israel.

Despite the tough talk, Israel doesn't appear close to sending troops into Rafah. This may be connected to ongoing attempts to broker a temporary cease-fire. Qatari mediators say those talks would be set back by a Rafah invasion.Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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