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The Israeli military says it has not yet presented a plan to evacuate Rafa to the government

Palestinians gather in the streets of Rafah, Gaza, on February 10, 2024.

Palestinians crowd the streets of Rafah, Gaza, on February 10, 2024. Abed Zagout/Anadolu/Getty Images

A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) told CNN on Tuesday that the Israeli military has not yet presented its plan to evacuate Rafah to the government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the IDF to plan a “population evacuation” of Rafah ahead of an expected ground assault on southern Gaza City.

“The government has ordered the IDF to formulate a plan to achieve our objectives, our combat objectives, in the Rafah area,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN's John Wass on Tuesday. “Of course, the plan you request has not yet been submitted to the government.”

Lerner said the military aims to develop a plan to evacuate civilians “harmlessly” and distinguish them from Hamas fighters.

More than half of Gaza's population is believed to be in Rafah, with most displaced people from other parts of the besieged enclave concentrated in the makeshift tent city.

“It can be done. We're confident in our ability to differentiate and diversify,” he told Vaz, though admitted it was “not without challenges.”

More than half of Gaza's population is believed to be in Rafah, with most displaced people from other parts of the besieged enclave concentrated in the makeshift tent city.

Israel faces international pressure over the potential civilian impact of a ground invasion of Rafah.

On Tuesday, Lerner addressed the concerns, saying, “The alternative…is surrendering to Hamas and sacrificing 134 people.”

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“It's not an option from Israel's perspective,” he said.

“We need to bring the hostages home, and bring them home now. We can do it, we have done it in the past. We have proven time and time again that we can put large numbers of people out of harm's way,” he said.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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