Thursday Briefing: Israel Seems Poised to Invade Rafah

Many of the Gazans in Rafah were displaced from other parts of the territory by Israeli bombardment.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel seems poised to invade Rafah

Israel’s allies have pressed the country not to invade Rafah, the city in southern Gaza where a million displaced Palestinians are living. But this week, Israel appeared to hint that an assault there was all but inevitable.

On Monday, an Israeli military official said that if an invasion were to begin, civilians would be relocated to a safe zone along the coast. Israel has also bombed Rafah, leading some civilians to fear that a ground assault would follow.

Israel says that a push into Rafah is necessary to eliminate the militants sheltering in a network of tunnels beneath the city, to capture or kill Hamas leaders presumed to be there and to ensure the release of the remaining hostages kidnapped during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks.

But the invasion would be devastating for civilians. The designated humanitarian zone identified as a possible place for them to go is already overflowing with displaced people.

UNRWA: Germany said it would restore its funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinians after a report undermined Israel’s claims that terrorists were in the organization’s ranks. Germany is the agency’s second largest donor after the U.S.

Hostages: Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an Israeli American who lost part of his arm in the Oct. 7 attacks, appeared in a Hamas video. He criticized Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and said he had been held hostage for about 200 days.

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