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Signs indicate Israel preparing for imminent Rafah operation

IDF continues airstrikes in Rafah and southern Gaza as preparations increase

Israeli tank operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

There is growing evidence of an imminent IDF operation into the town of Rafah. In the past couple of days, satellite imagery revealed the construction of several new tent compounds in southern Gaza and the IDF has mobilized two northern reserve brigades into the Gaza Strip. 

In a Passover public address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to “land additional and painful blows” upon Hamas in order to “increase the military and diplomatic pressure" on the terror organization to release all of the hostages. 

Israel Defense Forces also announced on Sunday that Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi had approved battle plans for the Rafah operation. 

On Monday, the Israeli news channel Kan Reshet Bet reported that Israel is about to significantly expand humanitarian areas in the Gaza Strip ahead of the expected ground operation. 

The Wall Street Journal cited “Egyptian sources” who claimed that Israel is preparing for a more precise operation in Rafah, possibly lasting “for at least six weeks.” 

Egyptian sources reported that Israel had informed the Egyptian government in advance of the operation, stating that a humanitarian mission to evacuate refugees from Rafah would precede potential ground operations by the IDF. The goal of the operation, which is expected to last two to three weeks, is to ensure the safety of civilians in the region.

The IDF has conducted several airstrikes in Rafah over the past few days, striking more than 50 targets in the last 24 hours alone. 

Israeli Air Force (IAF) jets struck two Hamas launch posts in southern Gaza overnight and destroyed a tunnel shaft in central Gaza.

The IDF also announced that the 2nd Reserve Brigade of the 146th Division and the 679th Reserve Brigade of the 210th Division, which normally operate on the northern front, were currently training for operations in the Gaza Strip.

According to the WSJ report, Israel plans to move evacuees from Rafah into tent compounds in the Khan Younis area ahead of the ground operation. 

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC, which were analyzed by the Associated Press on Tuesday, appear to show the construction of those tent compounds. 

It is not clear exactly who is behind the construction of the compounds. Haaretz reported that the tents are being erected by Egypt, however, there were no sources cited sources for that claim.

The Associated Press report disclosed that the IDF stated it was not involved in the construction of the new compounds.

In its report, the WSJ said Israel would coordinate the evacuation of civilians from Rafah with the United States, Egypt and other Arab countries. 

The WSJ also stated: “Israel plans to move troops into Rafah gradually, targeting areas where Israel believes Hamas leaders and fighters are hiding.” 

According to Israel Hayom, the decision to move forward with the Rafah operation came after the Hamas leadership's recent rejection of proposals by Israel and mediators in the hostage negotiations. 

Israel's Mossad said that Hamas was not interested in a deal but wanted an “escalation in the region.” 

The IDF estimates that several Hamas terrorists have fled to Rafah from other areas and that fighting in the enclave could be fierce. However, according to reports, the IDF intends to conduct an even more precise operation in Rafah than in other areas of Gaza. 

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials continue to oppose Israeli troops entering Rafah. 

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “President Biden has been very clear about this: We cannot support a major military operation in Rafah.”

Blinken believes that Israel’s goals could be achieved by other means. 

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also warned against a Rafah operation, saying, “The international community has so far been unable to stop the Israeli aggression in Gaza. The aggression in Gaza must be stopped and they must be prevented from attacking Rafah.” 


After the original publication of this article, reports in Hebrew media claimed that IDF Chief of Staff Halevi and Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar visited Egypt on Wednesday for talks with the head of Egyptian intelligence regarding the Rafah operation.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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