Despite international warnings Israel is sticking to its military operation

Despite international warnings, Israel is sticking to its military operation plan in Rafah

Israel's plans to launch a major military operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip have drawn international criticism over the “catastrophic” consequences for the 1.5 million Palestinians held in the city.

In a joint statement, Australia, Canada and New Zealand called on Israel “not to go down this path.” “An expanded military operation will have devastating consequences,” the three countries said. “Civilians simply have nowhere to go,” the note said.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians are in the city, the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip, where they have sought refuge in makeshift camps near the currently closed border with Egypt to avoid Israeli military action.

Despite international pressure, Israel insists that the entry into Rafah is crucial to destroying the Hamas battalions.

“We will fight until total victory, which requires strong action in Rafah after allowing civilians to leave the battle zones,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

At the same time, international mediators continue to negotiate a ceasefire in the war that has destroyed large swaths of Palestinian territory and led to the displacement of most of its population, which the United Nations says is on the brink of famine.

In the event of military action in Rafah, the risk of atrocities is “serious, real and high,” Alice Wairimu, U.N. special adviser on genocide prevention, warned on Wednesday.

Difficult negotiations

Mediators from the United States, Qatar and Egypt continue to seek a deal to end the fighting and release the nearly 130 hostages remaining in Gaza in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons at a meeting in Cairo.

“Israel has not received any new proposals from Hamas in Cairo regarding the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

According to the Israeli press, the country's delegation was ordered not to return to the negotiations until Hamas changes its stance. “I insist that Hamas abandon its illusory demands, and if it abandons these demands, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said.

The director of the CIA (US intelligence agency) met with the director of Israel's Mossad in Cairo on Tuesday, while a Hamas delegation took part in the negotiations on Wednesday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules the occupied West Bank, called on Hamas to “quickly” agree to a ceasefire.

The FBI announced that its director, Christopher Wray, made an unannounced trip to Israel to meet with local security and intelligence agencies.

Surrounded hospitals

Despite negotiations for a ceasefire, Israel increased bombings this Thursday. The Hamascontrolled health ministry in the Gaza Strip said 107 people had died in the last 24 hours.

One of them died in the orthopedic department of Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Yunis, where several people were injured.

The hospital, the largest in southern Gaza, has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks.

The organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) criticized Israel's order to deport thousands of patients, medical professionals and displaced people from the hospital. MSF said its staff continued to treat patients in “almost impossible conditions”.

Nurse Mohamed Al Astal told AFP that the hospital had been surrounded for a month and had run out of food and drinking water.

“At night, tanks fired on the hospital and snipers on the roofs of the buildings opened fire, killing three displaced people,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said she was denied entry to the hospital and lost contact with its staff.

WHO's Rik Peeperkorn said patients often suffer limb amputations that could be avoided under normal conditions.

The war began after an attack by Hamas militants in southern Israel on October 7 that killed nearly 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data. In addition, the Islamists kidnap almost 250 people 130 remain captive in Gaza.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to “destroy” Hamas, and its military offensive left more than 28,500 people dead in Gaza, most of them women and minors, according to the latest Gaza Health Ministry report.

Tensions continue on the border between Israel and Lebanon and the Israeli army announced that one of its soldiers was killed in a rocket attack from Lebanese territory.

Lebanese sources said several Israeli strikes had killed nine people in the country, including seven civilians.

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