At a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the War Leadership Council insist on threatening to invade Rafah in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, and army leaders announce that they have prepared a detailed war plan for this invasion, but they want the government to set specific political objectives and necessary arrangements with Egypt and accurate accounts for the military leaders in front of international judicial institutions, in case they are accused of committing war crimes, former Israeli IDF General Isaac Brick issued a stark warning about the dangers of such an invasion and the possibility of a massive massacre among Palestinian civilians that would cost Israel dearly in all directions. Brick called for a pivot in thinking and seeking an agreement to return the kidnapped.


The Israeli public response aligns with the hardline stances of the Netanyahu government. It is in harmony with the inclinations of the majority in the Israeli public, which is still dominated by a desire for revenge in reaction to the events of October 7. But, of course, it does not overlook the overwhelming current within the Israeli society that calls for the liberation of the hostages in light of the failure of Israel to achieve the two objectives it declared, which are the eradication of Hamas and the release of the hostages.


The Israeli war government’s insistence on occupying Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians forcibly expelled from the north and center of Gaza have sought refuge, hides growing doubts about what they will achieve once they get there. It took four months for Israel to carve its way through a strip of land 41 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide. In contrast, it took just over five weeks for the coalition led by the United States to take control of Baghdad in 2003. Israel used as much ammunition in four months as the United States used in seven years in Iraq.

This behavior would not have been possible without the American cover. The White House communicated to Israel that it has no objection to conducting a rapid ground operation in Rafah before Ramadan, advising against such actions during the holy month to prevent regional tensions from escalating.

It is noteworthy that this position came after a series of leaks that confirmed the depth of the differences between Biden and Netanyahu, including what was reported that the Israeli response in Gaza had “exceeded the limit.” The Biden administration no longer views Netanyahu as a partner who can be influenced,” Biden called Netanyahu in closed conversations, describing him as a “fool.” This means that despite the severe disagreements between Netanyahu and Biden, the American president does not exert real pressure on the Israeli Prime Minister because he is constrained by the pressures of the pro-Israel lobby, even though he loses popularity and his standing in the elections that will take place this year decreases. Biden receives less than 40%  of the American votes (According to estimates by the American Institute for War Studies and Israeli reports). In the second direction, Netanyahu has no escape from dealing with the Paris Agreement (Negotiations between Hamas and Israel aim to stop the war and return hostages) because it will remain his last resort to get out of his predicament in the field.


Perhaps Netanyahu wanted to play his last card in the aggression on Gaza before he decided to engage in efforts to cease fire seriously. He wants to go to negotiations after achieving a tangible success on the ground, which prompted him to magnify the size of his achievement by freeing “two hostages” in Rafah. Still, in the end, he will face fierce resistance in Rafah.

The United Nations has expressed grave concerns about the potential for a humanitarian disaster in Rafah, warning that a ground invasion could lead to a slaughter in the densely populated area. U.N. officials stress the dire humanitarian situation, with over a million people sheltering in Rafah and facing severe food shortages, medical care, and safe shelter. The U.N. calls for negotiations for the release of hostages and a cessation of hostilities to prevent an all-out offensive over Rafah, which would have devastating consequences​​.


In this context, criticisms and warnings about the new Israeli campaign are escalating while pressures on Israel increase, putting it in an awkward position for the second time before the International Court of Justice after South Africa submitted a new request against Israel at the International Court of Justice after Israel announced its readiness to launch an attack on Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip, considering that Israel must respect the measures previously announced by the Court of Justice which awaits reports on its handling of the genocide crimes it dealt with and proved against it! It does not seem that the occupation army will succeed in what it failed in the north and Gaza, amid the resilience of the resistance and its continuation to inflict losses among its ranks, with affirmations that it has not lost much of its forces or equipment, nor has its command and control system been affected. This prompted the occupation to offer to exile its political and military leadership in Gaza abroad, as happened with the organization’s leadership in Beirut in 1982, which Hamas rejected. Hence, negotiations based on the Paris Document will take their place within days and develop after weeks, as Netanyahu wants them under fire. However, there is significant doubt that Netanyahu’s position will improve on the ground due to the resilience of the resistance and his deprivation of this advantage. Perhaps this will become clear in the coming days.

How will the possible Rafah onslaught affect the Hostage Agreement?

Rafah, situated along the Egypt border, has become a sanctuary for Palestinians seeking refuge from Israel’s intensive bombings across the Gaza Strip during almost five months of the war on Gaza, sparked by the group’s attack on October 7. A Hamas official, speaking to AFP news agency under the condition of anonymity, stated, “Any military action by the occupation forces against Rafah would undermine the negotiations for exchanges.” Netanyahu has instructed his forces to get ready for an incursion into the city, which now accommodates over half of the total population of Gaza, raising alarms about the potential repercussions for the displaced civilian population. A high-ranking official from the Biden administration reported that there has been “real progress” in the talks for a phased agreement to free the remaining captives over recent weeks.

The discussion of the hostage release agreement was a crucial topic in a phone conversation between Biden and Netanyahu. However, there were still some “significant” differences to be bridged, according to the official, who noted, “It’s pretty much there.” Israel’s desire for the ground maneuver in Rafah is to pressure Yahya Sinwar to make concessions in the swap deal negotiations.

While Hamas may refrain from negotiating if the campaign on Rafah intensifies, negotiations will be complex, involving give-and-take, and may take weeks to reach a specific agreement. Due to the divergence of positions, negotiations may result in agreement on a single phase and the segmentation of the agreement on the remaining difficult stages. However, the equation of the agreement will be drawn by the situation on the ground and the nature of the pressures that Israel may face, especially with the deepening of its failure to achieve any accomplishment and the development of its internal dynamics.