War in Gaza: Israel wants to invade Rafah - USA presents resolution for ceasefire

International concern is growing over the looming Israeli ground offensive in the refugee-filled city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

War in Gaza: Israel wants to invade Rafah - USA presents resolution for ceasefire

International concern is growing over the looming Israeli ground offensive in the refugee-filled city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. On Tuesday, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution submitted by Algeria calling for an immediate ceasefire. If the US, as Israel's ally, vetoes it as announced, it would have to "take responsibility for everything that happens afterwards," said a diplomat. "If Rafah happens, there is no turning back."

Benny Gantz, a minister in Israel's war cabinet, made clear on Sunday: "The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know, that if our hostages are not home by Ramadan, the fighting will continue and spread to Rafah. " However, it is uncertain whether international mediators will be able to negotiate a ceasefire and the release of hostages by the start of the Muslim fasting month on March 10.

The USA, as Israel's ally, is also under increasing pressure. In recent days, Washington had tried to prevent a vote on the Algerian resolution text - according to its own statements, in order not to endanger negotiations between Israel and the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas. But Washington could also want to avoid being seen as a pioneer in Israel's increasingly criticized conduct of the war.

With regard to Rafah, a separate draft resolution states that "under the current circumstances, a major ground offensive in Rafah would lead to further harm to the civilian population and their further displacement, possibly to neighboring countries. Such a ground offensive should therefore under the current circumstances Circumstances cannot be carried out," the Reuters news agency quoted. A “temporary ceasefire in Gaza is needed as soon as possible.” The text indicates that the USA is further distancing itself from the Israeli military operation in the south of the Gaza Strip. It is still unclear when and whether the draft resolution will be voted on.

Germany and 25 other EU states are calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. This should lead to a sustainable ceasefire, the unconditional release of the hostages and the provision of humanitarian aid, according to a statement on Monday evening after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. The decision of the International Court of Justice of January 26th is also cited as the background to the demand, with which Israel was bindingly ordered under international law to do everything possible to prevent genocide in the Gaza Strip. The Foreign Ministers also called on Israel not to take military action in Rafah that would worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation and prevent the urgent provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.

In Rafah, the Israeli army is preparing to move in to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions and free suspected hostages there. However, the Israeli government has not yet issued an operational order in this regard. Military action in the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip is highly controversial because 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom have fled fighting in other parts of the coastal area, are crowded into a small area. Israel's army wants to present a developed operational plan to the war cabinet this week, the news site "Axios" reported on Tuesday night, citing Israeli officials. According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, civilians in the combat zones should be given the opportunity to move to safe areas before a ground offensive begins.

US President Joe Biden's Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk is expected in Israel and Egypt this week for talks on the possible Israeli military operation in Rafah and efforts to release hostages held by Hamas, reported “Axios” on Tuesday night, citing three Israeli and US officials. US President Joe Biden had previously warned Israel in clear terms that a military operation in Rafah “should not take place without a credible and feasible plan to ensure the security and support of the civilian population in Rafah.” There must be “a temporary ceasefire” to free the hostages. He expects "that the Israelis will not carry out a massive ground offensive in the meantime."

Netanyahu emphasized at the weekend that they would not bow to international pressure: "Anyone who wants to prevent us from operating in Rafah is ultimately telling us 'lose the war,'" said Netanyahu. The right-wing politician also emphasized his tough stance on the question of a two-state solution after the end of the war in a video message on Monday evening: In the event of an agreement with the Palestinians, Israel would claim comprehensive military control over all Palestinian areas. “In any case, with or without a permanent solution: Israel will maintain full security control over all areas west of the Jordan,” Netanyahu said. This “of course” includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “Everyone knows that it was I who for decades blocked the creation of a Palestinian state that would threaten our existence,” Netanyahu said.

The USA, as Israel's ally, is increasingly supporting the two-state solution, which envisages the peaceful coexistence of Israel and a future Palestinian state. This should largely extend to the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, i.e. the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza war was triggered by the unprecedented massacre carried out by terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups on October 7th in Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip. More than 1,200 people were killed in Israel and another 250 hostages were taken to the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive. Since then, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of malnourished children has risen sharply. Studies in the north of the region have shown that 15.6 percent of children there - or one in six children under the age of two - are acutely malnourished.

The vote in the UN Security Council on the resolution submitted by Algeria calling for an immediate ceasefire is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. German time. However, the date has not yet been finally confirmed.