Netanyahu Doubles Down on Plans to Attack Rafah Despite Growing Criticism

It's estimated 1.5 million Palestinians are packed into Rafah, which had a pre-war population of 275,000

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday doubled down on his vow to attack the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah despite growing criticism of the plan.

It’s estimated that about 1.5 million Palestinians are packed into Rafah, which has a pre-war population of 275,000. Most of the people sheltering in the city are living on the streets in tents, and many have been displaced multiple times since Israel unleashed its onslaught.

On Friday, Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military to draw up an evacuation plan for Rafah, but it’s unclear where the Palestinians sheltering there will go. A few hours after Netanyahu said he ordered the plan, Israeli airstrikes hit residential buildings in Rafah, killing 28.

Heavy Israeli airstrikes were also reported in Rafah late Sunday into Monday morning, with Al Jazeera reporting at least 50 have been killed so far.

Aid groups are warning a full-scale Israeli assault on Rafah would be a “blood bath” due to the concentration of Palestinians. Egypt, which borders Rafah, is threatening to scrap its 1979 peace treaty with Israel if it attacks the city. Cairo strongly opposes anything that could lead to an influx of Palestinian refugees entering its territory.

Military situation in Gaza on February 10, 2024 (

Responding to the criticism, Netanyahu claimed to ABC News that he had no choice. “Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there,” he said.

The Israeli leader suggested that Palestinians in Rafah could go to areas to the north that have been “cleared” by the Israeli military, though throughout the past few months, Israel has regularly attacked so-called “safe zones.”

Also, on Sunday, President Biden spoke with Netanyahu and said the US would support an attack on Rafah if Israel had a plan to evacuate civilians. The Biden administration has paid lip service to the idea of protecting civilians in Gaza but continues to provide unconditional military aid despite the massive civilian death toll.

The latest number from Gaza’s Health Ministry put the deal toll in the Strip since October 7 at 28,176, including over 12,000 children.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.