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Attacking Rafah in Ramadan will risk ‘explosion’ across Middle East, Jordan warns

AN ISRAELI assault on Rafah during Ramadan risks causing an “explosion” across the Middle East, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned today.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene his cabinet this week to “approve the operational plans for action in Rafah,” which Israel says it will attack on the first day of Ramadan, March 10.

Over a million Palestinians are crowded into the town on the Egyptian border, driven there by Israel’s repeated instructions to flee south as its armies have advanced through Gaza. Even Tel Aviv’s closest ally the United States has warned an attack on Rafah would cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

Heavy fighting continues in northern Gaza and Palestinians face mass starvation due to an Israeli stranglehold on aid. A two-month-old baby was reported to have died from hunger and the World Food Programme has suspended deliveries because they are too dangerous.

Israeli media report progress on ceasefire talks, with terms including the release by Hamas of 40 women and older hostages in return for up to 300 Palestinians being freed from Israeli jails being discussed, according to Egyptian officials. Hamas’s top political leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Cairo last week, though Hamas has not engaged in the talks — being thrashed out by Egypt, Qatar and the United States — directly. 

The Islamist group still holds an estimated 130 hostages abducted during its October 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,139 people. It has released 105 hostages and at least 13 have been killed by Israeli military action.

But while the US and Britain have claimed ceasefire talks could prompt a new agreement on an independent Palestinian state, Israel stands accused of accelerating the colonisation of Palestinian land, which renders such a state increasingly unviable. 

Israeli NGO Peace Now said today that Tel Aviv had approved another 3,344 illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank. East Jerusalem NGO Ir Amin said the demolitions of Palestinian houses in the city had also been stepped up since the war, with 87 homes bulldozed since October 7. Jerusalem rarely grants permission for new builds except in Jewish neighbourhoods, meaning many Palestinian houses are unauthorised and subject to sudden demolition.

The official death toll from Israel’s invasion of Gaza stood at 29,692 according to the territory’s Health Ministry today.
 

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