The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office has ordered the armed forces to draw up a plan for an attack on Rafah, a Gaza border town. Israel has not yet decided on a date for the attack, according to Haaretz, which relied on insider sources. One of the biggest question marks is that Israel has not reached an agreement with Egypt regarding the fate of the tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza. Hamas is believed to have used these tunnels to smuggle weapons and other supplies into Gaza.
According to a press release from Netanyahu’s office, the Prime Minister has instructed the armed forces to prepare a plan to destroy the four Hamas battalions in the city and to evacuate civilians from the Rafah area. The attack should be completed by March 10th before Ramadan begins, according to Netanyahu’s office. Hamas has warned that an Israeli ground attack on Rafah could claim tens of thousands of victims, and international actors have expressed their concern about the effects of an attack on civilians in Rafah and Gaza more broadly. According to Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, more than 28,000 people had already been killed by Israeli airstrikes and attacks by Saturday in response to October’s attack by Hamas.