Israel acknowledges plan to attack Gaza's Rafah, but keeps ceasefire talks alive | Israel's War on Gaza News

Israel is coming to send a team to Qatar, endorsing the long-standing threat of an invasion of Rafah, home to 1.4 million displaced people.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved plans to attack Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter, while mocking Hamas's cease-fire proposal as “ridiculous” and planning to send a team to Qatar for further cease-fire talks.

Israel's allies and critics warned Netanyahu against an invasion of Rafah, but the Israeli government says the enclave in southern Gaza is one of Hamas' last strongholds and has vowed to clear it.

“Rafa's ground invasion is just a ruse, so they can use it to get something out of the negotiations. But Netanyahu did everything he said he would do, so I think it will happen,” Luciano Sakkara of Qatar University's Gulf Studies Center told Al Jazeera on Israel's mixed news.

Hamas has proposed a new ceasefire plan to end Israel's war on Gaza and release Israeli prisoners in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

A statement from Netanyahu's office late Friday said the Israeli military was “preparing for an operational and population evacuation” of Rafah.

However, it gave no timeline and there was no immediate evidence of additional products on the ground.

Widespread criticism

From occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera's Hamda Salhud says Israel's talk of an impending ground invasion in Rafah is also defying growing opposition, particularly from its biggest political and military ally, the United States.

“US officials say they simply will not support such a move,” Salhut said, adding that Netanyahu plans “a military invasion and the expulsion of some 1.5 million Palestinians in Rafah.”

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters in Austria on Friday that the US needs to see a clear and workable plan from Israel for Rafah, including moving civilians out of harm's way.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Slott said: “The Netherlands strongly reiterates its call to Israel to refrain from such an attack, which would cause an even greater humanitarian catastrophe,” in a post on X, adding that “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire is of the highest importance, resulting in the prolongation of hostilities”.

The United Nations had already warned Israel last month that a ground invasion of Rafah would “lead to carnage in Gaza”.

“They could leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death's door,” said UN assistant chief Martin Griffiths.

Humanitarian situation 'beyond catastrophic'

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jagan Sabkain, said civilians in Gaza were “facing unprecedented levels of humiliation, suffering and suffering”.

“The health situation is on the verge of collapse as hospitals face desperate conditions,” he said in a statement on X, adding that the humanitarian situation in the enclave was “beyond catastrophic”.

Meanwhile, an aid ship reaching Gaza, operated by Spanish charity Open Arms, has sent 200 tons of food aid to the enclave, ending a pilot program that could pave the way for more aid to arrive via sea routes.

The US charity World Central Kitchen said it was preparing a second shipment in Cyprus and that thousands of tonnes of aid could reach Gaza every week.

Humanitarian organizations have repeatedly called for Israel to open more land crossings to allow humanitarian supplies, insisting that air bases and sea corridors are expensive and inefficient ways to deliver aid.

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