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Boundless savagery: Israel threatens to invade Rafah by start of Ramadan

Children inspect the damage in the rubble of a mosque following Israeli bombardment in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, February 12, 2024. (AFP)

Israel’s Benny Gantz says the regime will launch the looming ground invasion of Rafah early March.

The city in the south of the Gaza Strip is the last place of relative safety in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The Israeli minister for military affairs, who is also a member of the regime’s three-person war cabinet, told a conference in occupied al-Quds on Sunday that the Rafah offensive will be carried out in coordination with US partners by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on March 10.

Gantz said the Israeli hostilities will “continue everywhere, including the Rafah area.”

The United Nations agencies have issued increasingly urgent appeals to Israel to call off its planned invasion of the city on Egypt’s border.

A major offensive in Rafah, which world leaders fear could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, during Ramadan could also serve as a trigger for further violence across the occupied Palestinian territories and the wider region.

The fasting period is often tense. Clashes in Ramadan over access to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound have helped ignite wars in the past.

On Sunday, Arab religious and political leaders reacted with anger to news that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the current head of the regime, had accepted recommendations by Itamar Ben-Gvir to limit access to the holy site for the Palestinians during Ramadan.

Rafah shelters three-quarters of the displaced Palestinian population in sprawling tent encampments without access to adequate food, water or medicine.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the city is one of most densely populated places on Earth.

UNICEF said in a post on X that Rafah now houses half the population of the besieged territory, “many of whom have been displaced multiple times due to war.”

“They must be protected. They have no safe place to go.”

Israel has killed more than 29,000 people, mostly women and children, in Gaza since early October. Around 70,000 people have also been injured.

Washington, Israel’s great benefactor, has continued its military and diplomatic support for the regime ever since.

At the UN Security Council, the United States has signaled it would veto the latest UN draft resolution seeking an immediate ceasefire should it come to a vote.

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