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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Israeli PM approves Rafah operation plan

Benjamin Netanyahu said the IDF is prepared to conduct the attack and evacuate the civilian population

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the latest truce and prisoner-exchange proposal by Hamas and has approved an IDF plan to launch an operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israeli media reported on Friday.

The IDF is prepared for the operation and to evacuate the [civilian] population,” the PM’s office said in a statement, as cited by the Times of Israel.

Read more: Israel has ‘lost the war’ in Gaza even if it enters Rafah: Hezbollah leader

Earlier in the day, Hamas announced on social media that it had presented its “vision” of a prisoner swap with Israel to Qatari and Egyptian mediators and was looking towards a ceasefire agreement which would involve the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces from Gaza.

As reported by Reuters, which has seen the proposal, the Palestinian militants proposed the release of Israeli women, including female soldiers, children, the elderly and ill hostages, in exchange for Israel freeing between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Once the prisoner exchange is complete, Hamas said it would be ready to negotiate a date for a permanent ceasefire.

The Jewish state, however, dismissed the proposal and accused Hamas of making “unrealistic demands.”

On Thursday, Netanyahu also reiterated Israel’s determination to complete its mission of “eliminating” Hamas.

Read more: Israel wants to relocate Palestinians to ‘humanitarian islands’

Israel’s decision to proceed with a ground incursion into Rafah comes after repeated warnings from the international community, including the US and Egypt, not to enter the city where some 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering.

After Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israeli settlements last October 7, which saw 1,100 people killed and 250 taken hostage, Israel has been conducting a relentless siege on Gaza. According to the latest information from Palestinian health authorities, at least 31,341 people have been killed and 73,134 others injured in Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in the enclave over the past half a year.