30 Israeli paratrooper reservists 'refuse' to participate in looming Rafah invasion

30 Israeli paratrooper reservists 'refuse' to participate in looming Rafah invasion
The paratroopers did not answer their call-up to take part in a planned offensive of Rafah on grounds of 'exhaustion' and 'inability to carry out duties'.
3 min read
29 April, 2024
Israeli troops have suffered exhaustion as the war on Gaza continues [Getty/file photo]

30 Israeli paratrooper reservists have reportedly refused to take part in a planned ground invasion of Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, Israel media reported on Sunday.

The reservists reportedly said that they are "exhausted" and "unable to carry out their duties", Israel’s Channel 12 said.

The Israeli broadcaster said that army commanders will not force the reservists to participate in fighting in Rafah, adding that this would not affect the operational aspect.

It also said, however, that such a move indicated a high level of attrition in the reserve force after almost seven months of war.

Israeli forces have been indiscriminately bombing the Gaza Strip since October 7, killing at least 34,454 Palestinians there, mostly women and children.

Thousands more are feared trapped under rubble, while the spread of disease and lack of sufficient and adequate food and water is likely to exacerbate the death toll.

Israel has repeatedly threatened to invade Rafah in recent weeks. At least 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge there from Israel's ferocious bombardment of the territory.

Israeli leaders say that they want to "dismantle" Hamas and claim that the southern Gaza Strip city is the Palestinian group's last stronghold in Gaza.

Live Story

Channel 12 said that paratrooper reservists' families have "expressed concern" over their mental and physical health as they actively took part in Tel Aviv's deadly onslaught on Gaza. 

On February 29, Israeli paratroopers also withdrew from Khan Younis, and were replaced by the Bislamach Brigade.

On Saturday, the Times of Israel reported that army General Herzi Halevi approved plans to "continue the war", in a meeting with the commanders of divisions and brigades at the Southern Command headquarters in Beersheba, suggesting that Israel will carry out its offensive in Rafah.

However, also on Saturday, Israel's minister of foreign affairs Israel Katz said Israel’s planned incursion of Rafah "could be deferred" if a hostage deal is reached with Hamas.

"If there will be a deal, we will suspend the operation," he told Channel 12, as cited by Reuters.

At least 22 Palestinians were killed in Rafah, including women and children, with scores more injured following overnight Israeli strikes on Sunday and Monday, which targeted three homes.

Among those killed was a five-day-old baby, Palestinian health officials said, with many more victims feared trapped under rubble.

The targeted victims were the Abu Taha, Al-Khawaja and  Al-Khatib families, Arab 48 reported.

Israel has been intensifying its airstrikes on Rafah in recent weeks.

The strikes came as Egypt is expected to receive a Hamas delegation on Monday in a bid to deliver their response to Israel’s latest proposal for a truce, amid several failed attempts to reach a ceasefire in recent months during Israel’s brutal war on Gaza.

NGOs, UN agencies and several world leaders have warned that a ground invasion on Rafah would be "catastrophic", as civilians have nowhere else to flee to.