The MIDF and the planned Rafah assault

With the planned Rafah assault possibly due in May, the need for a MIDF has become all the more imperative and cogent.

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Published by BusinessToday & AstroAwani, image by BusinessToday.

In previous EMIR Research articles, we called for the formation of a “Multinational Islamic Defence Force” (MIDF) comprising initially of Arab countries (bordering or near the State of Israel) as a matter of critical necessity hinging on the current emergency and urgent situation – of a real and present danger of genocidal intent by the Zionist entity.

With Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned Rafah assault possibly due in May, the need for a MIDF has become all the more imperative and cogent.

The ostensible and purported justification is the drive to eliminate the “remnants” of Hamas said to be embedded in the refugee population in southern Gaza as embodied by the city of Rafah.

Rafah is adjacent to the Egyptian border and serves as the primary crossing point in southern Gaza for cross-border movements.

It now stands as the last bastion and refuge for Palestinians who have had to flee northern Gaza due to the Zionist aerial and ground offensive launched on October 27 2023.

The stated goal is to ultimately wipe out the much-maligned Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) – the only viable liberation body that stands between Zionist occupation and a free Palestine (including the holy sites in East Jerusalem).

Back then, the Zionist entity and its Western associates were “pinpointing” Hamas’s sophisticated multi-level deep underground tunnel network (reinforced with concrete and iron) with complex structures (containing dedicated sections, e.g., for infiltration tactics and launching trench warfare-like attacks/counter-attacks, storage and warehousing/stockpiling, transportation routes) and interconnected passages (equipped with cables and pipelines for power and ventilation, respectively, wide enough for vehicular movements, etc.) which are said to be 500 kilometres (310 miles) long, overall.

These subterranean caverns would play host to a significant bulk of Hamas fighters and, not least, the operational centre of gravity as epitomised by the venerable Yahya Sinwar (head of Hamas in Gaza and concomitantly the de facto “head of state”) and the intrepid Mohammed Deif (chief of staff and commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades – the military wing).

Hamas commandos are thought to be so-called “hunkering down” in relative safety – from Zionist aerial intelligence reconnaissance in combination with targeted strikes as well as the “strategic bombardments” (under the periodic “mowing the grass” operations).

Of course, the Zionists were also supposed to rescue the hostages (taken for negotiation and bargaining purposes) who’re kept safe in these underground tunnels.

How such a mission would be achieved by pounding the tunnels with bunker buster bombs (e.g., the 2000-pound BLU-109 penetration munition supplied by the US, no less) or flooding them with seawater with the intent of flushing out the resistance fighters – actions which are by their very nature indiscriminate and would thereby risk the lives of the hostages – is anyone’s guess.  

Now, the Zionist entity claims that the planned destruction of Rafah is to do with the final push against Hamas.

Again, how the Zionist military juggernaut will achieve that is up in the air.

Israel can’t avoid the fact that some 1.5 million Palestinians are crammed into makeshift shelters – effectively resembling a self-imposed mega “concentration camp site” set within a 64 square kilometres strip of land.

The total standing population in Rafah (inclusive of the original residents) comprises approximately 75% to 80% of the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

With no where else to go, there’s only one inescapable conclusion.

Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist and far-right ilk are planning to complete the process of expelling Palestinians from Gaza by forcing the refugees concentrated in Rafah to head into the Sinai Peninsula. 

As highlighted in the Al-Jazeera news report, “What’s behind Israel’s threat to attack Rafah?” (February 16, 2024), analysts believe that the planned full-scale military operation against Rafah is “aimed at pressuring Egypt, depopulating Gaza and helping Netanyahu cling to power [by prolonging the conflict]”.

So, all the talk about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exercising their so-called characteristic humanitarian values as exemplified by the advance notice for the Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate and move south has been clearly exposed as utterly hollow.

All the while, it’s been only a strategic ploy of the Netanyahu government.

To add, this simply belies the typical Zionist cunningness/deception under the pathological pretext and rationale of “survival” of the Jewish people post-Holocaust (Shoah).

The question that naturally arises is, “what about the survival of the Palestinian people?

And isn’t the Palestinian Question – which remains unresolved despite 75 years of the Nakba (Catastrophe) – continues to be a matter of international mandate/ responsibility and problem?

Recall that the State of Israel was artificially created under a United Nations (UN) mandate, specifically the UN General Assembly (GA) Resolution 181 aka the UN Partition Resolution/Plan of 1947 which divided historic Palestine (as traced back to Roman times) under the then British occupation.

Jerusalem was intended to be placed under a “special international regime”.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, UNGA Resolution 194 established the Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) to “help the parties reach a final settlement, while reaffirming the rights of Palestine refugees to return and restitution” (“The Question of Palestine and the General Assembly”, UN).

The resolution of the Palestinian Question as articulated by the UN only reinforces and underscores the argument for a MIDF acting under the international law doctrine of responsibility to protect (R2P) as first advocated by EMIR Research (“Responsibility to protect – undertake military action to prevent Gaza displacement”, March 23, 2024).

Under a MIDF, Egypt is indispensable and crucial as a leading member.

Geographically by default, Egypt is at the forefront of the war against Zionist aggression and must from the outset and at this stage resist the pressure to succumb to the inevitability of a refugee outflow from Gaza.

As the natural launching pad into Gaza, Egypt together with fellow MIDF member countries must send a strong signal to the Zionist entity.

Namely, that the MIDF will decisively act to block the planned assault on Rafah under the R2P doctrine.

The planned Rafah assault – even before it actually materialises – should be a red-line already.

The MIDF could envisage an encirclement of the refugee population in Rafah as protection and cover – which should include anti-aircraft (AA) guns and missile/projectile/rocket systems.

According to a report in Defence Security Asia dated February 14, 2024 (<https://defencesecurityasia.com/en/s75-dvina-egypt-missile>), Egypt has already deployed its S-75 Dvina Air defence system to the border with the Rafah Crossing. According to military experts, this is unprecedented since Egypt has never done this before except during the wars with Israel. In addition, M60 tanks have also been massed along the border. Whilst these weaponry and tanks are from a bygone era, they’re known for their durability and reliability, nonetheless.

At the same time, a MIDF would seek to establish a presence in the West Bank (EMIR Research article, “Responsibility to protect – the strategic role of the Multinational Islamic Defence Force”, April 5, 2024). 

In attempting to do so, the MIDF could also compel the Zionist entity with two options subsumed under one tactical approach, amongst others.

The MIDF could either replace the Zionist occupation forces in East Jerusalem (acting under international law) or establish a presence in the West Bank.

If Israel rejects both options, then the MIDF would have added legitimacy to land on the West Bank, potentially via Jordan (by both land and air).

Any eruption of clashes would automatically become an act of war – inexorably dragging Israel into a multi-front conflict that the Zionist entity can’t afford.

The unleashing of approximately 300++ ballistic missiles and drones under Operation True Promise (Va’de-Ye Sādeq) by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on April 13 has only served to expose and uncover Israel’s vulnerability and weakness – both strategic (e.g., see “How Iran attacks exposed Israel’s weakness”, David Hearst, Middle East Eye, April 15, 2024) and operational (e.g., see ”Israeli air defenses are not ‘untouchable’”, Shivan Mahendrarajah, The Cradle, April 17, 2024; and also “Iran and Israel’s Dangerous Gambit”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 18, 2024). 

It must be stated that Operation True Promise was preceded by advance warning in the form of a 72-hour notice (prior to the offensive) – something that the Zionist entity will never do under such a situation.

This was simultaneously accompanied by Hezbollah’s rocket attacks from southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights (BM-21 Grad self-propelled 122 mm multiple rocket launchers/MRLs) whilst the Houthis of Yemen launched drone attacks. 

As it is, the MIDF needs Jordan’s participation.

The kingdom now faces a strategic choice of whether it wants to reflect the will of its people – staunchly pro-Palestine – or opt for the status quo in relation to Israel under the peace treaty of 1994 (which has become geopolitically irrelevant). Furthermore, one-fifth of Jordan’s population have immediate or (in)direct origins in Palestine.

Once positioned in the West Bank, most probably only after a fierce conflict with the IDF, the MIDF could then assume the responsibility of external security on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), i.e., replacing the IDF. This ensures that all of the West Bank – Areas A, B, & C – are completely free of the IDF whilst at the same time curbing and finally eliminating settler violence.

Even though the State of Israel has historically emerged victorious in past wars with its Arab neighbours, there’s no guarantee of a similar outcome this time around should another conflict ensue.

We have seen how the October 7 penetration by Hamas dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood/Amaliyat Taufan Al-Aqsa (which by itself could only – as conditioned by strategic and tactical realities – be a “meagre” measure (i.e., not full-fledged invasion) had openly demonstrated Israel’s vulnerability and weakness.

In short, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and Operation True Promise were mirror images of each other.

Imagine what the MIDF could potentially do if only the Arab world has the political will and determination to come to an agreement for such a military grouping.Jason Loh Seong Wei is Head of Social, Law & Human Rights at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focussed on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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