February 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Threatens Hostages Over Israeli Operation Against Rafah

February 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Threatens Hostages Over Israeli Operation Against Rafah

Latest Developments

Hamas threatened on February 11 to call off negotiations over freeing the hostages if Israeli forces advance against the Palestinian terrorist group’s “last bastion” in Rafah. Hamas television channel Al-Aqsa TV quoted a senior Hamas official saying Israeli incursions into Rafah would “blow up” the Qatari and Egyptian-mediated talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded determined to press ahead, however, telling ABC News, “We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah.” The prime minister also said Israel is working on a “detailed plan” to move displaced Palestinians in Rafah out of harm’s way, i24 News reported.

Expert Analysis

“The latest Hamas threat is part of a concerted effort to touch off domestic Israeli opposition to any Rafah operation. But what it really shows is that Hamas is on the ropes. The Israel Defense Forces has already dismantled 60 to 75 percent of Hamas’s fighting forces. Israel now needs to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah and the tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border, through which Hamas is resupplied with Iranian weapons.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Taking Rafah is critical for the IDF to achieve the war’s two primary goals: destroying Hamas’s military capability and returning the Israeli hostages. Above ground in Rafah — hiding among the civilian population — are the last several Hamas battalions that must be dismantled. Several stories below ground lies the final knot of terror tunnels that Hamas has used to smuggle weapons into the enclave. This may also be where Hamas leadership and the more than hundred Israeli hostages are being held. Washington should support Jerusalem as the IDF pursues these goals in Rafah.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director, Israel Program & Senior Director, National Security Network

Israeli Operation in Rafah Could Be Imminent

Located on the southern border with Egypt, Rafah is one of the remaining parts of the Gaza Strip where Israel has not yet conducted a ground sweep. Israeli leaders have indicated such operations could be imminent, given the need to eliminate the four Hamas battalions located there.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt has given Hamas two weeks to soften its conditions for a hostage release if Hamas wants to avert an Israeli sweep of Rafah. The United States has opposed the Israeli plan to attack Rafah. Washington is concerned about the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians civilians who have been sheltering in and around the city. Egypt has also expressed alarm at the prospect of Gazan refugees crossing into its Sinai territory.

Israel Spurns Hamas Demands, Vows Total Victory in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Egypt Threatens to Suspend Peace Treaty With Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Cairo Warns Against Israeli Operation on Egypt-Gaza Border,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel, Egypt Consider Shared Border Security,” FDD Flash Brief


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