Netanyahu promises 'safe passage' to Palestinians ahead of Rafah operation

The threat of an Israeli incursion into Gaza's southernmost town of Rafah persisted Sunday, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised "safe passage" to civilians displaced there.

In an interview airing Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated his intention to extend Israel's military operation against Hamas into Rafah.

Despite international alarm over the potential for carnage in a place crammed with more than half of the Gaza Strip's 2.4 million people, Netanyahu told ABC News: "We're going to do it".

"We're going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave," he said, according to published extracts of the interview.

It remains unclear however, where the large number of people pressed up against the border with Egypt and sheltering in makeshift tents can go.

When asked, Netanyahu would only say they are "working out a detailed plan".

As Israeli forces have pushed steadily southwards, Rafah has become the last major population centre in Gaza that troops have yet to enter, even as it is bombarded by air strikes almost daily.

"They said Rafah is safe, but it is not. All places are being targeted," Palestinian Mohammed Saydam said after an Israeli strike destroyed a police vehicle in the city on Saturday.

The Israeli premier, who contends "victory" over Hamas cannot be achieved without clearing battalions in Rafah, directed his military on Friday to prepare for the operation. His announcement set off a chorus of concern from world leaders and aid groups.

"The people in Gaza cannot disappear into thin air," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on social media platform X, adding that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would be a "humanitarian catastrophe in the...

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