IDF Chief of Staff: Civilians Will Be Evacuated from Rafah before Israeli Offensive

(Times of Israel) Emanuel Fabian - IDF achievements in the war against Hamas in Gaza are greater than expected at this stage, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said Tuesday. "In the past decades, there has not been an army that maneuvered in an area that is urban and dense, with high [buildings] and [tunnels] below the surface of the ground. IDF soldiers are dealing with this with great success and the military achievements are extraordinary." Asked when Palestinian civilians could return to northern Gaza, Halevi responded that it was not yet safe enough for them to return. Hamas was still active there "nearly every day....We don't want to create a situation in which the residents of Gaza mix with the enemy, thus risking their lives. That is why we are still isolating the north." He promised that residents would be allowed to return as soon as the army was sure it had eradicated terrorism in the area. In Khan Yunis, Halevi said, "We are reaching places that the enemy did not imagine we would reach, destroying all the strategic assets of Hamas in a city that was considered the terror capital of the organization." He added that the IDF would work to evacuate civilians from Rafah before it launched its offensive there. He said he appreciated other countries' advice on the challenge, but that the IDF has shown that it is capable of targeting enemy forces in such complex environments. Referring to the rescue of two Israeli hostages in Rafah on Monday, Halevi said, "Every week, we carry out special operations, while risking [troops'] lives in complex conditions with great uncertainty, to try and return hostages home. This time we were successful. There were more operations that did not succeed."

2024-02-14 00:00:00

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