Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the regime’s military to prepare a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians from Gaza’s Rafah ahead of an expected invasion of the densely populated southern city, despite warnings that such a move "would be a disaster."
On Friday, Netanyahu's office said he had ordered the military to come up with a "combined plan" that includes both a mass evacuation of civilians and attacks on Hamas' fighters in Rafah.
"It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah," the statement said.
"On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat," it claimed.
The evacuation orders are seen as part of Israeli propaganda.
At the start of the aggression on Gaza, the regime ordered 1.1 million people in the north of Gaza to evacuate and move south of the coastal sliver. However, it has continued to rain down bombs on the south.
It also remains unclear where civilians can go as Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza that began in October has caused widespread destruction, especially in northern Gaza.
Netanyahu's order came in defiance of heavy international criticism, including from the US, of Israeli intentions to invade Rafah that borders Egypt and is now home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were displaced from their homes in other parts of Gaza because of the Israeli strikes.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday said Israel's conduct in the war is "over the top," the harshest US criticism yet of its staunch ally.
The US State Department also warned that an invasion of Rafah in the current circumstances "would be a disaster."
Israel has already begun to strike Rafah from the air since overnight.
Aid agency officials have also warned against any invasion of Rafah.
"We need Gaza's last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems to stay functional," said Catherine Russell, head of the UN children's agency UNICEF.
"Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket, taking more child lives."
Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime's decades-long campaign of bloodletting and devastation against Palestinians.
Since the start of the offensive, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 27,947 Palestinians and injured more than 67,459 others.
Thousands more are also missing and presumed dead under the rubble in Gaza, which is under “complete siege” by Israel.