Attack on Rafah, Netanyahu accelerates. Israel: Hamas center under UN headquarters

The Israeli prime minister wants to recall the reservists

Israel prepares for a new attack in the Gaza Strip. The objective of the Defense Forces (IDF) is the city of Rafah, in the south of the enclave, where it is estimated that 1.2 million people currently live, including many Palestinians who have abandoned the north of the Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the evacuation of civilians, a clear signal regarding the next planned steps.

Now, as news spreads about the victims of the air raids, other operational indications are also arriving. The prime minister asked Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi to call up the reservists again to participate in the ground operation in Rafah. A reversal of direction compared to the measures adopted in January, when some units were withdrawn from the Gaza Strip for planned rotation or for already scheduled training activities.

Now, Israel seems to be pushing again according to information anticipated by Channel 13, which quotes a ”senior Israeli official” on condition of anonymity. Halevi reportedly told the prime minister that the army is capable of carrying out any task. The same source said that the army operation in Rafah is getting closer to the start, but coordination with Egypt is necessary before it starts: we still need to work on this aspect.

In the international context, in the last few hours Saudi Arabia’s voice has been raised which predicts “very serious repercussions in the event of an offensive” against Gaza. “The Kingdom reiterates its categorical opposition and total condemnation” of the operation, renewing “the request for an immediate ceasefire”, states the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, the IDF reports having found a Hamas intelligence center under the UNRWA headquarters, the United Nations agency that assists Palestinian refugees, in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City. Here the IDF had already dismantled a local Hamas battalion.

At the time of the first ground offensive in Gaza City, the military had not found or known much about the Hamas data center. It was possible to identify the place where to dig for twenty meters thanks to the information obtained through the Shin Bet interrogations of the captured terrorists.

UNRWA does not know what lies beneath its headquarters in Gaza”, writes the director of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees Philippe Lazzarini in a tweet, adding that ”UNRWA has become aware of news through the media about the presence of a tunnel under its headquarters in Gaza” .

Lazzarini recalls that ”UNRWA personnel left their headquarters in Gaza City on 12 October following Israeli evacuation orders and the intensification of bombing in the area. We have not used that complex since we left it, nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there.”

Lazzarini also states that, ”through the media we learn that the Israeli army has deployed troops inside the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City. We are therefore unable to confirm or otherwise comment on these reports”. The agency carried out the last inspection of its premises in Gaza in September 2023, he explains, adding that ”The Israeli authorities did not officially inform UNRWA of the alleged tunnel”.