Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Fox News’ Shannon Bream on Sunday about the military’s planned incursion into Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip where approximately 1.5 million people are currently sheltered. While these people have few options available to them, Netanyahu said “there’s plenty of room north of Rafah for them to go to, and that’s where we’re going to direct them.”
Netanyahu added that the military will deploy “flyers, with cellphones and with safe corridors and other things” to guide citizens to another part of Gaza. It is unclear what part of Gaza Netanyahu seemed to reference. According to the Associated Press, of the 1.5 million currently in Rafah, many are refugees from areas north of the city that have been leveled by the Israel Defense Forces.
One city north of Rafah is the destroyed Khan Yunis, once touted as a safe haven for Gazans fleeing the north, who had previously been directed to move south. In photos taken by CNN, it is clear that much of Khan Yunis as it existed in December 2023 is no longer there.
On Tuesday, the United Nations reported that the population of Rafah has increased fivefold since the current war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7 following the terrorist group’s attack on Israel and kidnapping of hundreds of people. U.N. spokesperson Jens Laerke explained, “To be clear, intensified hostilities in Rafah in this situation could lead to large-scale loss of civilian lives, and we must do everything possible within our power to avoid that.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Netanyahu told ABC’s “This Week” that plans are in the works to help citizens who now need to flee Rafah. He said, “We are working out a detailed plan to do so” before he added, “We are not going to let Hamas emerge victorious. And if we leave, it’ll be a tremendous victory for the Iran terror axis.”
He added, “We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we’re going to do it.”
Netanyahu and President Joe Biden spoke Sunday for the first time since the latter appeared to criticize Israel’s operation in Gaza. The president told White House reporters, “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza – in the Gaza Strip – has been over the top.”
A military push into Rafah would also threaten the relationship between Israel and Egypt and cut off one of the most important avenues for delivering aid into the devastated region. The suggestion of the war expanding into Rafah has drawn sharp condemnation from around the world.
European Union representative on foreign affairs and security Joseph Borrell Fontelles posted on Saturday, “I echo the warning by several EU member states that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt. Resuming negotiations to free hostages and suspend hostilities is the only way to avert a bloodshed.”
I echo the warning by several EU member states that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt.
Resuming negotiations to free hostages and suspend hostilities is the only way to avert a bloodshed.
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) February 10, 2024
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield also condemned the planned invasion. In an interview with NPR, she said, “Look, we have been absolutely clear that under the current circumstances in Rafah, a military operation now in that area cannot proceed. And that would dramatically exacerbate the humanitarian emergency that we’re all seeking to alleviate right now.”
“Israel has an obligation to ensure that civilians, that their civilian population is safe and that they’re secure and that they have access to humanitarian aid and to basic services,” Thomas-Greenfield added.
Watch Netanyahu “Fox News Sunday” interview in the video above.