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Israel to provide ‘safe passage’ for Palestinian civilians in Rafah, Netanyahu claims

Israel will push into Rafah in southern Gaza despite widespread concerns over the potential toll, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a television interview aired Sunday, vowing to provide "safe passage" for civilians out of the overcrowded city.

Agencies and A News MIDDLE EAST
Published February 11,2024
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem March 5, 2023. (REUTERS File Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that his forces will provide a "safe passage" for civilians in Rafah as his army prepares for a new offensive on the city in southern Gaza.

"Victory is within reach. We're going to do it. We're going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions and Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we're going to do it," Netanyahu told ABC News in an interview Saturday evening.

"We're going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave," he said.

"We are working out a detailed plan to do so," Netanyahu added. "We're not, we're not cavalier about this."

On Friday, Netanyahu ordered the military to submit a dual plan to evacuate Palestinians from Rafah, home to more than 1 million residents seeking refuge from war, and to defeat the remaining "Hamas battalions." The planned offensive has triggered concerns of a humanitarian catastrophe in the city.

Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah as Israel pounded the rest of the enclave following an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 28,000 victims and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

In late 2023, South Africa filed a case at the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of failing to uphold its commitments under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The UN court, in its interim ruling in January, ruled that South Africa's claims are plausible. It ordered provisional measures for Israel's government to desist from genocidal acts, and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.