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Israeli troops set to invade Rafah in DAYS as Netanyahu forces ‘await order’ to wipe out last Hamas stronghold

Israeli troops will move to Rafah immediately following instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a senior Israeli defense official.

The army is reportedly fully prepared to take the southern Gaza Strip city and wipe out Hamas’s “final stronghold.”

Israeli military vehicles travel along Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip.

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Israeli military vehicles travel along Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip.Credit: AFP
Palestinians living in Rafah inspect the rubble of buildings demolished in Israeli attacks

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Palestinians living in Rafah inspect the rubble of buildings demolished in Israeli attacksCredit: Getty
Israeli troops patrol the highway separating the north and south of the Gaza Strip

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Israeli troops patrol the highway separating the north and south of the Gaza StripCredit: EPA
An aerial view shows destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.

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An aerial view shows destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.Credit: AFP

It is not known exactly when Israel will launch a ground offensive on the border town, but a Netanyahu government spokesman has said Israel is “moving forward” with its invasion plan.

The defense official said Reuters that the Israeli army is prepared to evacuate civilians from Rafah and attack the last stronghold of Hamas.

Refugee-filled Rafah is home to more than a million Palestinians who fled Israel’s attacks through the rest of Gaza.

Israel also claims to host four Hamas combat battalions, as well as thousands of retreating fighters.

Israel’s military could “swing into action” and take Rafah immediately, but is waiting for the green light from Netanyahu, Reuters reports.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has purchased 40,000 tents, each holding 10 to 12 people, to house Palestinians relocated from Rafah ahead of the impending assault, according to the official.

Satellite images showed rows of white tents at a location west of Khan Younis, a town about 5 kilometers from Rafah where medical personnel are said to be waiting, and at another location near Rafah.

Before and after photographs suggest that both camps were built this month.

Brigadier General Itzik Cohen, commander of Israel’s 162nd Division operating in Gaza, threatened the attack as the United States – a close ally of Israel – called on the country to drop its attack plans.

BG Cohen told Kan public television on Tuesday: “Hamas was hit hard in the northern sector. It was also hit hard in the center of the Strip.

“And soon it will also be greatly affected in Rafah.”

He added: “Hamas should know that when the IDF enters Rafah, it would be best to raise its hand in surrender.”

Israel prepares ‘imminent’ invasion of Rafah to ‘finish the job’ by hunting down the last 4 Hamas battalions

The Israel Defense Forces revealed today that it is ready to deploy two reserve brigades for missions in the Strip.

Both brigades, the 679th Armored Brigade “Yiftah” and the 2nd Infantry Brigade “Carmeli”, were operating on the northern border, but will soon be stationed in central Gaza. local media reports.

Military sources indicated that the measure will free up Nahal Brigade troops, who currently control the central corridor, to help prepare for future operations, including planned offensives in Rafah and central Gaza.

The US special envoy for humanitarian issues in the Middle East, David Satterfield, told reporters on Tuesday that Washington “could not support a ground operation in Rafah without an appropriate, credible and executable humanitarian plan.”

He added: “We continue discussions with Israel about what we believe are alternative ways to address a challenge that we recognize, which is the Hamas military presence in Rafah.”

An Israeli government source told Reuters that Netanyahu’s war cabinet is planning to meet sometime this year. next two weeks to authorize civilian evacuations from Rafah, which are expected to last about a month.

Israeli media, including the HaYom newspaper, also reported that the Israeli government had decided to move to Rafah “very soon.”

The warnings came after some 800 military vehicles were seen parked at two separate bases in the war-torn enclave.

Planet Labs satellite images show about 700 trucks in the Negev desert in the south of the Strip, along with another 120 on the northern border.

In addition to a large number of white tents, nine military posts were seen around the Strip, believed to have been erected late last year after Hamas unleashed terror in Israel on October 7.

The outposts, which normally house soldiers, vehicles and command centres, will reportedly house many of those currently seeking refuge in Rafah and who have been advised to leave ahead of an attack.

Netanyahu has long warned that Israel will invade Rafah, announcing last weekend: “In the coming days, we will increase military and diplomatic pressure on Hamas because it is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory.”

The controversial future attack was said to be part of a six-week military operation beginning in May, in which Israeli troops would enter Rafah in stages, according to Egyptian officials.

Rows of tents have been erected near Khan Younis in Gaza.

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Rows of tents have been erected near Khan Younis in Gaza.Credit: AP
The camp is believed to have been built this month.

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The camp is believed to have been built this month.Credit: AP
Before and after photos show one of the sites on April 7, above, and April 23, below.

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Before and after photos show one of the sites on April 7, above, and April 23, below.Credit: AFP

In February, the Israeli prime minister said sending troops to the “last terrorist stronghold” in Rafah was necessary to win Israel’s devastating war against Hamas.

He said: “Victory is within our reach. We are going to achieve it.”

“We are going to capture the remaining terrorist battalions of Hamas and Rafah, which is the last stronghold.”

Netanyahu also stated then that Israel was developing a “detailed plan” to ensure “the safe passage of the civilian population.”

He rejected fears – expressed by Western nations, including the United States – that an invasion would lead to a “catastrophe.”

Egyptwhich shares a border with Rafah, has said it will not allow Gazans to be pushed into its territory.

Cairo warned that Israel’s advance on Rafah “would lead to massive human massacres, widespread losses (and) destruction,” according to its State Information Service.

The American president Joe Biden signed national security legislation today that will provide around $26 billion (£20 billion) in wartime assistance and humanitarian aid to residents of Israel and Gaza respectively.

Speaking from the White House after the signing the invoiceHe said: “I want to make it clear once again that my commitment to Israel is ironclad.”

Of the billion dollars earmarked for aid, Biden added that Israel “must ensure that all of this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay.”

He continued: “Everything we do is guided by the ultimate goal of bringing the hostages home, securing a ceasefire and establishing the conditions for lasting peace.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Biden had been “very clear” that the United States “cannot support a major military operation in Rafah.”

Without a comprehensive plan to get civilians out of harm’s way, something Blinken said the United States had not yet seen, any military operation will have “terrible consequences” for those who remain in Rafah, he said.

Palestinians who left their homes in Gaza and took refuge in Rafah live in tents.

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Palestinians who left their homes in Gaza and took refuge in Rafah live in tents.Credit: Getty
A camp for internally displaced Palestinians who fled Rafah and the northern Gaza Strip is seen in the west of Deir Al Balah in the southern Gaza Strip.

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A camp for internally displaced Palestinians who fled Rafah and the northern Gaza Strip is seen in the west of Deir Al Balah in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit: EPA
Relatives of Palestinians who died after Israeli airstrikes carry their bodies from El-Najar hospital to be buried in Rafah

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Relatives of Palestinians who died after Israeli airstrikes carry their bodies from El-Najar hospital to be buried in RafahCredit: Getty

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