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Netanyahu Pledges Rafah Incursion ‘With or Without an Agreement’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Credits: PBS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel will invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, regardless of whether a cease-fire and hostage release deal is reached.

Netanyahu stated, “The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question. We will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there – with or without a deal, in order to achieve total victory.”

This announcement comes despite mounting pressure from international leaders, including the Biden administration, who have urged Netanyahu not to launch a full invasion of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from Israel’s nearly seven-month war with Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Credits: The Times of Israel)

The Biden administration has repeatedly urged the Israeli military to exercise caution and develop a specific plan to prevent mass civilian casualties.

According to local health officials, more than 34,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza since early October. Israel has increased strikes on Rafah in recent weeks, claiming they are necessary to eliminate the threat of Hamas.

Netanyahu announced earlier this month that a date for invading Rafah had been set, although the State Department stated that plans had not been communicated to US leaders.

Netanyahu’s remarks came hours before a scheduled meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is arriving in Israel to continue truce talks.

Benjamin Netanyahu (Credits: NBC News)

The current deal proposal includes a six-week halt in fighting in exchange for the release of remaining hostages taken during Hamas’s October 7 surprise assault, which left about 1,200 people dead. Over 100 hostages are believed to still be under Hamas’s control in Gaza.

In a recent call with Netanyahu, Biden reiterated his position on Rafah and discussed the humanitarian situation. The White House stated that Biden is working with Israel to open more humanitarian corridors into the territory from Israel.

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