Netanyahu: Israel Will Invade Rafah

Israeli PM promises to do so 'with or without' a ceasefire deal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 1, 2024 1:30 AM CDT
Netanyahu: We Will Invade Rafah
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023.   (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to launch an incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering from the almost 7-month-long war, just as ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas appear to be gaining steam, the AP reports. Netanyahu said Israel would enter Rafah, which Israel says is Hamas' last stronghold, regardless of whether a truce-for-hostages deal is struck. His comments appeared to be meant to appease his nationalist governing partners but it was not clear whether they would have any bearing on any emerging deal with Hamas.

  • "The idea that we will stop the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question," Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office. "We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate Hamas' battalions there—with or without a deal, to achieve the total victory."
Netanyahu's comments came hours before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to arrive in Israel to advance the truce talks—which appear to be one of the most serious rounds of negotiations between Israel and Hamas since the war began. The deal is meant to free hostages, bring some relief to the population, and avert an Israeli offensive into Rafah and the potential harm to civilians there. The US has repeatedly said it opposes the Rafah operation until Israel presents a credible plan for evacuating and protecting the estimated 1.5 million people seeking shelter there. (More on Netanyahu's comments and the coming talks here.)

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