Netanyahu says Israel developing dual plan to evacuate Rafah civilians, defeat Hamas

By Thomson Reuters Feb 9, 2024 | 9:01 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he had ordered the military to develop a dual plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah in southern Gaza and to defeat the remaining Hamas battalions, as international pressure on Israel mounts.

Israel on Friday launched a deadly air strike on Rafah, the last part of the enclave where Gazans have found refuge, despite criticism of its offensive by U.S. President Joe Biden and aid groups’ warnings of a high death toll among Palestinians if it advances into the city.

International concern about the fate of hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans sheltering in Rafah has risen since Israel threatened a ground assault on the city, on the border with Egypt.

Washington said on Thursday it would not support any Israeli military operation launched in Rafah without due consideration for the plight of civilians, and Biden described Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks as “over the top”.

(Reporting by Emily Rose)