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Israel's ground offensive in Rafah sparks international concern

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Israels ground offensive in Rafah sparks international concern
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Amid negotiations for a permanent ceasefire in the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza among stakeholders, Israel's plan to conduct a ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah has raised international concerns.

The prospect of such an operation has raised alarm among aid groups, foreign governments, and even Hamas itself, which warned that any attack on Rafah would jeopardize negotiations for a truce and the exchange of captives and prisoners.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has instructed troops to prepare for entry into Rafah, which currently hosts over half of Gaza's total population. This move has sparked concerns about the safety of displaced civilians in the densely populated city.

United States President Joe Biden has weighed in on the situation, cautioning against a ground assault without a credible plan to protect civilians. Biden emphasized the need to ensure the safety of the more than one million people sheltering in Rafah, highlighting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas have been underway, with a focus on a phased framework deal to release hostages held by both sides. A senior Biden administration official noted "real progress" in these negotiations but acknowledged that significant gaps remain to be addressed.

The hostage release deal has been a key topic in discussions between Biden and Netanyahu, with the U.S. president emphasizing the importance of prioritizing civilian safety in any military action.

Meanwhile, mediation efforts for a ceasefire and the release of hostages have continued in Cairo. Hamas claims that around 240 hostages were seized on October 7, with some released during previous truces. However, Israel maintains that 132 hostages, including 29 believed to be dead, are still held in Gaza.

Amidst escalating tensions, Israel's military has conducted targeted raids in Khan Younis, the main city in southern Gaza, while Hamas has reported violent clashes and airstrikes in Rafah. The situation remains volatile as both sides brace for potential further escalation.

The possibility of a ground offensive in Rafah has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and international observers, who warn of a humanitarian catastrophe if such an operation were to proceed. The UN has highlighted the dire conditions facing the population in Rafah, where a quarter of the residents are reportedly facing starvation.

Despite mounting pressure and concerns over the safety of civilians, Netanyahu has signalled Israel's intention to move forward with the ground campaign in Rafah. However, the specifics of how to ensure the safety of civilians amidst the conflict remain uncertain.

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TAGS:HamasFree PalestineIsrael Palestine Conflict
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