Rafah
RafahAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Israel has made significant progress in preparations for the evacuation of around one million civilians from the Gazan city of Rafah ahead of the Israeli military’s impending operation in the city, an Israeli source told ABC News on Thursday.

Preparations have been ongoing for over a month, including repairing water and sewage pipes and amassing thousands of tents, the source said.

There are around 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs estimated to be in the Khan Yunis and Rafah areas in southern Gaza. It is believed around 1 million people would evacuate north. The evacuation process, which could take weeks, would not start until after Passover, according to ABC News.

State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel stressed to reporters that "any kind of forced relocation or displacement of the Palestinian people within Gaza cannot and should not be part of any plan or an operation."

US and Israeli officials on Thursday held a virtual discussion on, among other issues, a possible Israeli operation in the Gazan city of Rafah.

The White House said in a statement following the meeting, “The two sides agreed on the shared objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah. US participants expressed concerns with various courses of action in Rafah, and Israeli participants agreed to take these concerns into account and to have further follow up discussions between experts.”

Earlier this week, officials told CNN that Israel was set to begin its operation against the last Hamas battalions in the Gaza Strip this week, but delayed the operation following Iran's massive attack over the weekend.

According to the report, the IDF had planned to begin dropping leaflets over Rafah on Monday to warn civilians of the impending operation, but ultimately did not do so.

Meanwhile, Egyptian sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the US agreed to accept Israel's plan for an operation in Rafah - so long as Israel does not carry out a widescale strike on Iranian soil.

According to the sources, Egypt raised its alert level following a lengthy conversation with Israel and the understanding that the IDF is carrying out intensive preparations for a widescale operation in the area.