Hamas warns attack on Rafah will ‘blow up’ hostage deal amid growing condemnation against IDF offensive

The U.S., Egypt and others in the international community have warned against an offensive in the Gaza border city.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Hamas on Sunday warned that a proposed IDF operation in Rafah, Gaza, would “blow up” negotiations for a deal to release the hostages being held by the terror group, amid growing concern by the international community — including the US — against the military campaign.

A senior Hamas official told the terrorist organization’s Al Aqsa channel that “any attack in Rafah will blow up negotiations for a prisoner exchange.”

He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “avoiding the price of the prisoner exchange by continuing the mass extermination and humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah. What Netanyahu and the Israeli army failed to do in four months, he won’t be able to achieve it even if the war drags on.”

Last week, Netanyahu said that Hamas’ latest terms for a deal, which included a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza in addition to the release of 1,500 Palestinian security prisoners, were “delusional.”

Key allies of Israel including the U.S. and Germany have voiced opposition to the expansion of the IDF offensive into Rafah.

Read  WATCH: New details emerge regarding daring IDF rescue mission

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a visit to Tel Aviv, expressed American concerns about the operation, emphasizing the need for a plan that would safeguard civilians. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby reiterated the U.S. stance against the operation unless civilian protection could be guaranteed.

Egypt issued a stark warning, stating that its peace treaty with Israel from 1979 could be jeopardized if the operation proceeds in Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Sunday cited “limited space and great risk” of escalating military action in Rafah and warned of “dire consequences” in the case of further escalation, according to the Reuters news agency.

Egypt has barred the entry of Palestinians from crossing into its territory via Rafah, and has deployed 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers along the border in recent days.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell both highlighted the implications of a large-scale offensive in Rafah. More than 1.3 million Palestinians are currently in Rafah, many of whom fled there from the northern Gaza Strip. It is a Hamas stronghold and a key route for weapon smuggling into the enclave.

Netanyahu has maintained that a campaign in Rafah is key to achieving victory, telling ABC news that the IDF is posed to “get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah.”

Last week, the IDF targeted three high-ranking Hamas officials in Rafah, including Ahmed AlYakoubi, commander of Hamas security services, his deputy Ayman al-Rantisi, and Ibrahim Shatt.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a humanitarian truce to prevent a “gigantic tragedy” in Gaza.