An offensive is imminent in Rafah. Netanyahu promises civilians an exit from the city. Israel locates Hamas tunnels under UNRWA headquarters.

View of a makeshift camp in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

View of a makeshift camp in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Yasser Qudih/XinHua/dpa

Areas north of Rafah have already been evacuated

Before the expected attack on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised civilians waiting there a safe corridor. “We will provide the civilian population with a safe route out of the city,” Netanyahu said, according to excerpts of an interview broadcast Sunday by US network ABC News. In light of Israeli plans for an offensive against the city, warnings had grown of dramatic consequences for refugees stranded there. Meanwhile, Israel reported the discovery of a Hamas tunnel under the headquarters of the UN Palestinian aid agency, UNRWA, in the Gaza Strip.

“We are putting together a detailed plan for this. “We do not take this matter lightly,” Netanyahu emphasized, according to previously published excerpts of the interview, with a view to finding an escape route for civilians. Areas north of Rafah have already been cleared and can be used as safe areas for civilians, he said. At the same time, he stressed that victory is “within reach”: “We will do it. “We will take the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions and the last stronghold of Rafah.”

More than a million refugees from other parts of the Palestinian territory are stranded in Rafah amid Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu had ordered his army on Friday to present a “combined plan to evacuate the population and destroy Hamas battalions” in Rafah.

The city was also attacked on Saturday. Palestinian security circles said that, among other things, five police officers were killed. The Israeli military said it killed two senior Hamas members in an attack.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) called the threats of an attack on Rafah on the online service X (formerly Twitter) a “humanitarian catastrophe with an announcement.” The need in the city “is already incredible.” 1.3 million people sought protection there from the fighting in a very small space and could not “disappear into thin air.” The radical Islamic group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, warned of a “catastrophe and massacre” that could lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. (afp)

Borrell warns of a “humanitarian catastrophe” if there is an Israeli offensive in Rafah

In light of Israeli plans for an offensive against the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe”. “I agree with the warnings expressed by several EU member states,” Borrell said Saturday night on X, formerly Twitter. “An Israeli offensive against Rafah would mean an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.”

There would also be “strong tensions with Egypt,” a country bordering Rafah, Borrell warned. “The resumption of negotiations for the release of the hostages and the cessation of hostilities are the only means to avoid a massacre.”

Given these statements, there were urgent international warnings against such a measure. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) declared on Saturday, among other things, that there was a threat of a “humanitarian catastrophe”. The anguish in Rafah “is already incredible,” explained Foreign Minister Baerbock. 1.3 million people sought protection there from the fighting in a very small space and could not “disappear into thin air.” (afp)

Israel reports Hamas tunnel under UNRWA headquarters

Israeli soldiers say they have discovered a Hamas tunnel beneath the headquarters of the United Nations Palestine Assistance Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military and Shin Beth intelligence agency said on Saturday that operations in Gaza City in recent weeks had uncovered the tunnel entrance near a UNRWA-run school.

“The entrance led to an underground terrorist tunnel, which was a major asset for Hamas' military intelligence services, and passes beneath the building that serves as the UNRWA headquarters in the Gaza Strip,” the army statement said. Israel's intelligence agency. The “electrical infrastructure” of the 700-meter-long tunnel is “connected” to the UNRWA headquarters. This indicates that the tunnel apparently “received electricity from UNRWA facilities.”

In light of the Israeli statements, UNRWA stated that it had no longer used its headquarters in Gaza City since October 12, just days after the brutal attack on Israel by the radical Islamic group Hamas.

Serious accusations against UNRWA employees have recently emerged: Twelve employees of the UN aid agency are suspected of being involved in the unprecedented Hamas attack against Israel on October 7. In response to the allegations, countries including Germany, Britain, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the US announced they would temporarily suspend their payments to the aid organization. The UN wants the allegations to be investigated by an independent committee. (afp/dpa/rtr)

Israel criticizes rating downgrade as inappropriate and politically motivated

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich criticized the downgrade of Israel's credit rating by the US agency Moody's. The decision, related to the Gaza war, is not based on sound economic considerations and amounts to a pessimistic “manifesto,” says Smotrich. “The Israeli economy is strong by any measure. It is capable of sustaining all war efforts on the front and home front until victory is achieved with the help of God,” he added. Moody's had previously downgraded Israel's credit rating from “A1” to “A2.” The agency cited significant political and financial risks to the country due to the war with the radical Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The outlook is negative, meaning a further downgrade is likely the next step. (rtr)

US-led coalition repels attacks on Syria's Conoco oil field

The air defense systems of US-led coalition troops stationed in eastern Syria have repelled six drone attacks against their base in the Conoco oil field, according to a source. The source did not say if there were any injuries. Coalition forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are fighting together against the extremist Islamic State militia, have faced a surge in attacks by Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq since the attack. Hamas on October 7 against Israel.

Last week, the SDF demanded that the United States send additional air defense systems to Syria to protect its bases. Earlier, six SDF fighters were killed in one of the drone strikes. Three US soldiers were killed in another drone attack on a border post in Jordan, for which Iranian-backed groups are believed to be responsible. (rtr)

Iran's foreign minister warns Israel not to attack Lebanon

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned Israel against a large-scale attack on Lebanon. “Any action” toward such an attack “would mean the end of Netanyahu,” Amir-Abdollahian said, referring to the Israeli head of government on his third visit to Lebanon since the major attack on Israel by Islamist Hamas on October 7. .

Iran is a key ally of Hamas and the Islamist militia Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has been bombing army positions in Israeli territory almost daily for months, to which the Israeli army responds with attacks on the Lebanese side of the border.

Earlier this week, Lebanese authorities, citing French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, said Israel could start a war against Lebanon to allow tens of thousands of people evacuated from northern Israel due to Hezbollah bombings. They will return to their homes.

Israel “will never be able to fight on two fronts,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian. During his visit to Beirut, the head of diplomacy met, among others, with the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, the senior representative of Hamas, Ussama Hamdan, and the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, which fights alongside Hamas. , Siad al-Nachala. (afp)