Netanyahu approves the Rafah operation, and Israeli officials are set to head to Qatar.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has greenlit a military operation in Rafah, Southern Gaza, which includes plans for evacuating civilians, his office announced on Friday following a meeting of the war cabinet earlier in the day.

The Rafah operation serves as a tool for Israel to exert pressure on Hamas to negotiate the release of the remaining 134 captives held in the enclave.

The international community has expressed concerns over the potential impact on the over 1.3 million Palestinians in the Rafah area, many of whom sought refuge there to escape bombing in northern Gaza.

The US has emphasized the need for Israel to present a credible and realistic plan to safeguard civilians in Rafah. National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby stated on Thursday that the Biden administration has yet to receive such a plan.

Concurrently, while the war cabinet discussed the possibility of a Rafah operation, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that an Israeli delegation is set to depart for Doha for hostage talks once the security cabinet deliberates the government’s stance on the matter. It reiterated that Hamas’s position on the talks remains implausible.

Qatar, Egypt, and the United States, who had aimed to broker a deal by last Sunday or Monday, continued their efforts, overcoming a potential obstacle on Friday as noon prayers on the Temple Mount passed without significant incident.

Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi expressed hope for a deal within a few days during a visit to a police academy on Friday, stressing the importance of reaching a ceasefire in Gaza. He outlined that the proposed deal would facilitate increased humanitarian aid distribution and enable Palestinians sheltering in the south to return home.

The US has consistently outlined the terms of the proposed deal, which includes a six-week pause in the conflict and the release of 40 hostages, primarily women, the elderly, and the informed. Additionally, Israel would be requested to release Palestinian prisoners, including security detainees and terrorists held in its jails.


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