Home UK News Mishal Husain Presses Israeli Official Over Rafah Civilian Evacuation

Mishal Husain Presses Israeli Official Over Rafah Civilian Evacuation

Mishal Husain Presses Israeli Official Over Rafah Civilian Evacuation

Mishal Husain called out an Israeli official for dodging questions about civilian evacuations from the next Gaza city expected to face Israeli military action.

Israeli forces are expected to soon advance into the southern city of Rafah, which borders Egypt, after successfully rescuing two Israeli hostages from the city on Monday.

Israel believes Rafah is the last remaining stronghold for Palestinian militants Hamas.

But, there are said to be more than one million civilians taking refuge in the city – approximately half of Gaza’s total 2.3 million population.

Many Palestinians fled south in the last few months following Israeli evacuation orders.

Speaking to Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner this morning on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Husain asked if there is now a plan to evacuate the large civilian population in the city of Rafah.

But Lerner said we should be “very cautious” not to assume Israeli forces have mobilised in Rafah, just because of the hostage rescue mission.

He continued: “We’ve said from the offset that we will operate from wherever Hamas, wherever they are hiding, however they are hiding…”

Husain cut in: “Air strikes have intensified in that area.”

“We’ve conducted air strikes against Hamas operational capabilities, in that area and beyond that area,” he replied.

Husain said: “Certainly seems as though this area, which is densely populated and filled with people who have been displaced multiple times, there is military activity going on in that area, in one form or another.

“Have you prepared an evacuation plan, is there going to be one?”

Lerner said: “As we’ve proven time and time again, we conduct our operations with the intent of keeping civilians out of harm’s way.

“It is an extreme challenge for any military, and there is no difference in this case at all.”

He said the operations would be carried out with the target of achieving their goals – eliminating Hamas.

Husain cut in again: “Thousands of civilians have died and Mr Netanyahu has said he wants a combined plan for evacuating the population.

“Is there going to be one?”

Four months after Hamas militants killed 1,200 people on Israeli soil and took 240 hostages, Israel’s retaliatory strikes have killed more than 28,000 people in Gaza, according to local Hamas-run health officials.

The Gaza officials do not differentiate between civilians and militants in calculating the death toll.

Lerner just said the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is already “operating under the assumption there are civilians in the arena and civilians need to be taken out of harm’s way”.

“How do they get out of harm’s way in Rafah?” Husain pushed. “Is there a plan? Because when I asked you a moment ago, you seemed to dodge that question.”

He said he was not going to go into “operationally planning this morning”, but claimed that Hamas are operating in residential areas.

“This is what you’ve been warned against doing by US president Joe Biden, by British foreign secretary David Cameron, and by others as well,” Husain replied.

He responded: “We are very, very attentive to our allies in the US and in the UK, we take their considerations and concerns, I would say with extreme attention to the details.

“But of course that can’t stop us form achieving our goals of taking home the hostages – that would be an immoral request from anyone asking us not to bring home the hostages.”


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