“Qany attack by the occupation army [israelita] to the city of Rafah would threaten negotiations” over the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, the official told AFP, at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to launch an offensive against the city.
Benjamin Netanyahu “is trying to escape” the negotiations by “committing a genocide and a new humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah”, said the Hamas official, saying that what the prime minister and the army “have not been able to do in more than four months , they will not be able to do so for as long as the war lasts”.
On Friday, the Israeli Prime Minister ordered the Israel Defense Forces to begin preparing for the evacuation of Rafah.
In a statement released by his office, Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel will not be able to defeat Hamas without destroying the forces that the Palestinian Islamist movement maintains in that city, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and in its surroundings.
Both the UN and the US have expressed their concern about a possible expansion of the Israeli army’s ground offensive towards Rafah, the last refuge for more than a million Gazans who have been fleeing fighting for four months.
The State Department warned on Thursday that a military operation in Rafah without adequate planning for the evacuation of civilians would be “a disaster.”
Hamas’ unprecedented attack on October 7 caused around 1,200 deaths, according to Israel.
Since then, 28,176 Palestinians, the vast majority of them women, children and teenagers, have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli bombings and military operations, according to the Ministry of Health of Hamas, a movement considered terrorist that has controlled the enclave since 2007.
Negotiations have been underway for several weeks for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
In November, a week-long ceasefire allowed the release of 105 of the approximately 250 hostages taken to Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
According to Israel, 132 hostages remain detained in Gaza, 29 of whom are believed to have died.
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