Sat 20-July-2024

Will Netanyahu win the battle of Rafah?

Thursday 25-April-2024

The Israeli military has repeatedly said that all preparations for the ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah were complete, Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, the Israeli army is waiting for the kick-off order from the political leadership, pointing out that the invasion plan was green-lighted by the US.

Like all other cities in Gaza, Rafah is a densely populated area with around 300,000 residents. In addition, it is hosting around 1.4 million refugees displaced from different areas across the besieged coastal enclave.

All world leaders have been expressing concerns that the Israeli ground invasion of Rafah would lead to a large number of casualties among civilians.

Their concerns stem from the Israeli ground invasions of other cities and neighborhoods during the past 200 days of slaughtering of people, disregarding civilians and civil infrastructure.

For this reason, world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Israel’s patron, have been asking Netanyahu to propose a plan for his potential invasion that guarantees the protection of civilians and providing humanitarian assistance for them.

However, Netanyahu is ignoring them. He has claimed several times that he discussed an invasion plan with the US, but the US denies his claims.

When asked on Wednesday whether the US had green-lighted an Israeli invasion into Rafah, Barbara Leaf, assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said: “Absolutely not … I cannot confirm that we have done any such thing. We have not green-lighted a military operation.”

But Netanyahu has been claiming that invading Rafah and routing Hamas military wing there would bring the Palestinian Movement on its knees so that it would release the Israeli prisoners held in Gaza.

Therefore, he is turning his back on the demands of the whole world, including the US and other close allies, as well as those in the region such as Egypt.

He has always undermined all effort exerted to reach a ceasefire deal, claiming that more military pressure on the Palestinian Resistance would lead to the release of the prisoners.

Along with his current threat to invade Rafah, Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, reported parallel efforts in Israel aimed at pushing forward the negotiations to reach a ceasefire deal.

Netanyahu, after 200 days of pounding Palestinians, still does not have an absolute decision on how the best way is to free the Israeli prisoners in Gaza.

Along with most Israelis, he wishes to carry out the mission through military pressure in order to deter the Palestinian Resistance.

However, he ignores the assumption that the Palestinians had gone into a pre-planned endeavor aimed to free thousands of their prisoners from Israeli jails and end the 18-year-old Israeli siege imposed on Gaza.

For 200 days, Netanyahu has been fighting, carrying out war crimes, genocide and killing thousands of children, destroying homes, schools, mosques and all kinds of infrastructure, but he has not freed his prisoners.

In a gesture, to show him that his prisoners could be released only through a deal, the Palestinian Resistance agreed to release tens of the prisoners, in return for days of truce and release of Palestinian children and women from Israeli jails.

Now, as he is allegedly bracing to invade Rafah, remarks from allies and Israeli officials —from inside and outside his coalition — prove Netanyahu’s uncertainty.

Head of Israel Betinu, Avigdor Lieberman, mocked on Wednesday Netanyahu’s plans to move to Rafah, saying: “He declared he was moving to Rafah and [his Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant denies taking a decision to do so. May be, they are waiting to provide Hamas with the exact time and date of the operation?”

Maariv, one of the leading Hebrew newspapers, doubted that invading Rafah would end the Palestinian Resistance and bring the Israeli prisoners back without a price.

“Those, who think that Rafah would be the last chapter in this war and would lead to the collapse of Hamas, do not understand that Netanyahu’s claims about victory are not more than a joke or an illusion.”

Netanyahu’s army has invaded all parts of Gaza, Maariv said, and Hamas revives immediately following the army’s withdrawal, reorganizes itself and resumes its resistance.

Tens of Israeli writers, military and strategic experts have advised Netanyahu to accept a ceasefire deal with the Palestinian Resistance paying a high price for the release of Israeli prisoners because it is the only way to achieve this goal.

Regardless of the internal complications in Israel that might lead Netanyahu to prison, Netanyahu, as an acting Israeli leader, is doing his best to achieve a victory for his rogue state, but he still does not know how.

His arrogance pushes him not to listen to any advice from internal or external allies, even his patrons the US President, senior officials and Congressmen. He does not even listen to his military advisers, including the Shabak and Mossad heads, who lead the talks with the Palestinian Resistance.

For the Palestinian Resistance, whether Netanyahu moved to Rafah or not, it insisted that it would not change its conditions for the release of the Israeli prisoners.

The Palestinian Resistance prefers a lesser price of human losses, mainly as the immoral Israeli army attacks civilians in large numbers, but it said that over 8,500 Palestinian prisoners have the right to be released from Israeli jails and 2.4 million people in Gaza living in an open-air prison for 18 years also have the right to freedom.

So, facing a stubborn and legal Palestinian Resistance, whether Netanyahu moved to Rafah or not, he will not achieve his dream victory. Nevertheless, global support for the Palestinian Resistance has been sharply rising and anger with Netanyahu and his crimes has been sharply ascending, too.

-Motasem A Dalloul is MEMO’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip.

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