Hamas ‘preparing’ for Israeli ground assault on Rafah

Hamas ‘preparing’ for Israeli ground assault on Rafah

Hamas is gearing up for an anticipated Israeli assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a leader from the Palestinian group said on Thursday.

“The resistance has begun preparing for the Israeli manoeuvre aimed at invading Rafah,” the Hamas leader said to The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on condition of anonymity.

“The Rafah operation will not be a walk in the park as the occupation leaders assume … fighters from all factions are fully prepared to inflict significant losses on the [Israeli] occupation army.”

Despite Israel’s earlier announcement of plans last month to invade Rafah at the onset of Ramadan, the offensive was halted following warnings from the US and other allies of Israel.

The New Arab reported on Wednesday, citing an Egyptian source, that Israel had notified the Egyptian government about its plans to carry out the Rafah assault after Eid al-Fitr, scheduled for 9 April.

While the Hamas leader did not confirm this, he asserted that “all indicators received by the resistance, whether through intermediaries or on the ground, point to an Israeli determination to carry out the Rafah operation”.

This comes as Israel asked the US on Thursday to reschedule a crunch meeting to discuss its military operation in Rafah days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly cancelled a planned visit to Washington.

Netanyahu postponed the original scheduled meeting in response to the US’s failure to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The US is attempting to talk Israel out of a ground offensive on Rafah or is at least attempting to get Tel Aviv to find a way of conducting its assault while guaranteeing the protection of the 1.3 million Palestinians crammed into the city.

Netanyahu said last week that Israel is ready to go ahead with the attack with or without US support.

On this matter, the Hamas leader said: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the entire region to an explosion, which, if it occurs, no party will be able to control its repercussions.”

The UN said that any type of Israeli ground assault on Rafah “could lead to a slaughter” in the city.

Source » newarab.com