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Israeli army prepares for major operation in southern Gaza Strip

Israeli army prepares for major operation in southern Gaza Strip Photo: The Israeli army is preparing a major operation in the southern Gaza Strip (Getty Images)

The Israeli army is preparing for a new major military operation in the southern Gaza Strip in the city of Rafah, located near the border with Egypt, according to The Times of Israel.

"It is impossible to achieve the war goal of eliminating Hamas and leave four Hamas battalions in Rafah. On the other hand, it is clear that a massive operation in Rafah requires the evacuation of the civilian population from the combat zones," said the office of the Israeli Prime Minister.

According to The Times of Israel, over 1.3 million Palestinians, who evacuated from the northern part of the Gaza Strip during the Israeli army's advance, are hiding in the Rafah area. Many of them live in tent camps or UN shelters.

Preparation for a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas

On February 1, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Hamas had given its preliminary consent to a ceasefire and a hostage release agreement. The day before, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer discussed an agreement that would allow the release of 136 hostages.

According to reports, the agreement involves the release of civilians initially captured on October 7, 2023, and later the soldiers of the IDF and the return of the bodies of deceased hostages.

It is expected that Israel will also release Palestinian prisoners, including those among the security service personnel. However, this time, it is expected that their number will be larger and will include terrorists "with blood on their hands." The ceasefire is expected to last much longer than the previous week-long pause.

In November, as a result of negotiations on a hostage exchange, Hamas released about 120 individuals, and Israel released a group of Palestinian prisoners. However, later, the parties resumed active hostilities in the region.

Subsequently, the Israel Defense Forces launched a new major offensive in the western part of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The operation is accompanied by extensive military actions.