Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed / Flash 90
Gazans inspect their damaged house after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 10, 2024.

Despite intense opposition from the United States, the United Nations and Arab states in the region, the Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to eliminate the Hamas terror regime in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement released Saturday night.


“On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.

“Therefore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the IDF and the security establishment to submit to the Cabinet a combined plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions.”

During a news briefing on Thursday, US State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel quoted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as saying the United States “would not support” an IDF operation in Rafah — even though four full Hamas battalions are alive and well and using the civilians in the crowded city as its latest human shields while continuing its attacks on Israel.

“We would not support the undertaking of something like this without serious and credible planning as it relates to the more than a million people who are sheltering there, as well as without considering the impacts on humanitarian assistance and the safe departure of foreign nationals as well.

“We have yet to see any evidence of serious planning for such an operation,” Patel told reporters, implying the IDF has not engaged in “serious planning” for its operations in Rafah, since such plans were not shared with the United States.

“To conduct such an operation right now with no planning and little thought in an area where there is sheltering of a million people would be a disaster,” Patel said.

That’s a pretty big assumption being made by the State Department. Oddly, no similar accusations have been leveled against Ukraine’s forces — which routinely are forced to engage with Russian fighters in crowded areas — or against anyone else, for that matter.

“Rafah is also a region that is a key conduit for access of humanitarian aid. The Rafah border crossing is where foreign nationals, including American citizens and LPRs, are able to safely depart. So this is not something that we’d support, and the Secretary made that clear in his meetings with the prime minister,” Patel added.

The Rafah crossing, incidentally, is controlled by Egypt, which is free to expand the number of refugees and others flowing out of Gaza, but which has chosen not to do so. Strangely, the State Department has ignored this as well.

Gazans Forced to Bribe Egyptian ‘Fixers’ to Get Families on Exit List

Egypt has maintained a tight control on who leaves Gaza, how they exit and at what cost, since those who have left and those whose family members are still trying to leave have reported fees of up to $10,000 per person charged by the officials who control the daily exit authorization list.

During the day on Saturday, following IDF and Shin Bet intelligence, Israeli aircraft struck and eliminated Ahmed Eliakubi, a senior Hamas operative in the area of Rafah.

Eliakubi was responsible for the security provisions for senior Hamas leaders and served as a senior commander in the Rafah district, the IDF said.

A second senior Hamas military operative, Iman Rantisi, was also eliminated in the strike and an additional operative was killed as well, the IDF said.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.