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Senior US officials have warned against the invasion of Rafah. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The news comes a week after Netanyahu announced that there “is a date” for a ground invasion of Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone the planned ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, according to the country’s public broadcaster.

The news comes a week after he announced there “is a date” for the invasion.

However, Netanyahu has in recent days decided to postpone the military action, the Israel National News website reported on Monday, citing a Kan 11 News news report of the day before.

The Anadolu news agency said that according to the public broadcaster, the postponement of the ground operation came after consultations with the Israeli security apparatus.

The prime minister has faced immense pressure for repeatedly vowing to press ahead with an invasion of the town where roughly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. Many have been displaced from other areas destroyed by Israel in its ongoing military assault on the besieged enclave.

Last week Netanyahu said: “This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen – there is a date.”

The US administration has also stressed its opposition to an invasion of Rafah, with President Joe Biden warning it would cross “a red line”.

But Netanyahu, in an interview published by the Politico news website on March 10 said, “We’ll go there. We’re not going to leave. You know what the red line is, that October 7 doesn’t happen again. Never happens again.”

‘Credible Plan’

The US, Israel’s closest ally, pushed for a credible plan to protect civilians ahead of a ground offensive.

US State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller told reporters on March 11 that it was “our judgment that they cannot, should not go into Rafah without a humanitarian assistance plan that is credible and that they can actually implement,” adding “Let’s wait and see what it is they come up with.”

On March 15, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu had rejected the latest truce and prisoner-exchange proposal by the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas and, instead, approved an Israeli military plan to launch an operation in Rafah.

”The IDF (Israeli army) is prepared for the operation and to evacuate the (civilian) population,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, which was cited by the Times of Israel.

At a cabinet meeting on March 17, Netanyahu vowed not to bow to international pressure to halt the war on Gaza and instead press ahead with the invasion.

“No amount of international pressure will stop us from realizing all the goals of the war: eliminating Hamas, releasing all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat against Israel,” Netanyahu said. “In order to do this, we will operate in Rafah.”

He also rejected calls for elections to be held in the country, saying it “will halt the war and paralyze the country for at least six months.”

“If the war was stopped now,” he said, “before all of its goals are achieved, this means that Israel will have lost the war, and this we will not allow…we cannot and will not succumb to this pressure.”

“Therefore, I reiterate: We will operate in Rafah. This will take several weeks, and it will happen,” Netanyahu added.

Ben-Gvir’s Threat

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has threatened to overthrow the government if Netanyahu ends the war on Gaza without attacking Rafah.

“If the Prime Minister decides to end the war without an extensive attack on Rafah in order to defeat Hamas, he will not have a mandate to continue serving as Prime Minister,” Ben-Gvir said in an X post on April 8.

Israel’s military brigades stationed in the southern city of Khan Younis, withdrew the day before, described by Tel Aviv as part of preparations for potential further operations, particularly in Rafah.

Last week, a US official reportedly said the administration was yet to see a humanitarian plan ahead of a Rafah ground assault.

‘A Catastrophe’

World bodies and humanitarian organizations have also warned Israel against a Rafah invasion.

The secretary general of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said last month that “Clearly any ground invasion into Rafah would be an absolute catastrophe, it doesn’t bear thinking about, it would be disaster upon disaster.”

At the same time, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appealed to Israel not to proceed with its planned ground assault on Rafah, warning that it would lead to more deaths and suffering.

“Further escalation of violence in this densely populated area would lead to many more deaths and suffering, especially with health facilities already overwhelmed.

The postponement comes after Iran launched drones and missiles on Saturday night against Israel in retaliation for the attack on its consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus on April 1.

The retaliatory attack involved a barrage of attack drones and missiles, with over 200 projectiles fired towards Israel.

Over 33,700 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 33,797 Palestinians have been killed, and 76,465 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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