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Israeli cabinet to approve 'operational plans' on Rafah next week: Netanyahu

People walk in front of the al-Faruk mosque, leveled by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 25, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the regime’s war cabinet is set to approve “operational plans” for the ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, despite widespread global condemnation.

Netanyahu made the remarks in a news conference on Saturday, saying he would convene the cabinet next week to approve operational plans related to Rafah, including the evacuation of the civilian population from the city. 

Rafah, situated in the Gaza Strip’s closed southern border with Egypt, is home to nearly 1.5 million Palestinians who have been displaced due to Israel’s genocidal war on the territory.

Israel had designated Rafah a “safe zone,” but it is now threatening an all-out military offensive, leaving the people sheltering there terrified with nowhere left to go.

International concerns are growing as Israel’s ground invasion of Rafah is looming large, with world leaders expressing grave concerns over the military operation against the densely populated area in the far south of Gaza.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Netanyahu noted that his cabinet is working to reach another framework for the release of Israeli captives held in Gaza.

“That is why I sent a delegation to Paris and tonight, we will discuss the next steps in the negotiations,” the Israeli premier said.

Talks for a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas began in the French capital, Paris, on Friday.

Hamas has already said the only way for the group to release Israeli captives alive is for the Israelis and their supporters to accept its conditions, including the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The resistance group exchanged 80 Israeli captives for 240 Palestinian prisoners during a pause in the Gaza war that ended on December 1. The truce, which was meditated by Qatar and other countries, also allowed the delivery of badly-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza after weeks of Israeli attacks on the territory.

Israeli sources say Hamas still holds 137 captives from the operation it carried out on October 7 in the occupied territories, during which some 1,200 Israeli settlers and military forces were also killed.

Israel waged its brutal war on the Gaza Strip on October 7 after Hamas carried out the historic operation against the usurping entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

The occupying regime has so far failed to achieve its objectives of "destroying Hamas" and finding the Israeli captives held in Gaza.

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