Published On: Thu, Apr 11th, 2024

IDF still the ‘masters of Gaza’ despite withdrawal as major new offensive looms | World | News

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are still the “masters of Gaza” despite their apparent withdrawal from the south of the strip as the possibility of a major offensive on the city of Rafah.

That’s the view of a Middle East expert who has cautioned against reading too much into the withdrawal – stating it’s not likely to significantly alter the course of the war.

It comes after Israeli forces pulled out from Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Sunday, marking the end of a significant phase of the conflict. While some experts have interpreted this as a de-escalation, Israeli defense officials suggest they are merely regrouping for a potential push into Rafah.

Dr Andreas Krieg, Associate Professor of Security Studies at King’s College London, told The Mirror: “Some people have read too much into it, saying its strategic withdrawal and it’s not really going to set this war onto a new trajectory.

“If they want to reengage, they will, as soon as they make a decision to go back in. After all it’s only a few kilometers to the Israeli border. They can just reengage. So it’s not a major turning point in the war.”

READ MORE: British aid workers’ boss accuses Israel of waging ‘war against humanity’

However, the proposed operation has BEEN met with international disapproval, notably from the US, which has voiced concerns that the approximately 1.4 million civilians seeking refuge in Rafah could be put at risk.

On the topic of whether the Rafah offensive will proceed, Dr Kreig speculated: “I really don’t think the Israelis want to go ahead with the Rafah operation but nobody knows.

“Netanyahu has a date for the operation and said it’s going to go ahead but that’s part of bargaining and negotiation. No one knows if they WILL really go forward with it. But at least in Khan Younis people have relative calm.”

He added: “Obviously airstrikes will still continue. Drones are constantly in the air, if they want to take someone out from there, they will do it.

“You don’t need boots on the ground to do it. And most people killed already weren’t from boots on the ground but from the air. So you don’t need these troops on the ground to create havoc and kill people.”

“For the people in the South it doesn’t make a major difference.

“For them its not calm before the storm, its about getting access to food. Doing anything to alleviate their suffering and none of that is going to help.

“Even if they were opening some of the border crossings, there is no infrastructure on the other side of Gaza that will allow them to distribute aid in an adequate manner.”

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