Israeli defense minister visits Rafah, vows return of hostages

Yoav Gallant visits soldiers on the front inside Rafah, says Israel will return captives either by force or hostage deals.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (Likud) visited IDF forces operating in the southern Gaza city of Rafah Sunday, and held an operational situation assessment near the front lines.

During his visit, Gallant met with Deputy Chief of the General Staff Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, Commander of Division 162, and the commanders of the fighting brigades deployed to the area.

During the field assessment, Gallant was briefed on the troops’ operations above and below the ground, as well as the deepening of operations in additional areas with the aim of dismantling Hamas battalions.

Gallant later spoke with soldiers serving in reserve duty in the Rafah area.

The minister vowed the IDF would destroy the Hamas terror organization, and that Israel would secure the return of the remaining captives held in Gaza – either by military force or through a new hostage deal.

“Our goals in Gaza are emphasized here in Rafah – to destroy Hamas, return the hostages, and maintain freedom of operation,” Gallant said.

“Regarding the hostage issue – we are making tremendous efforts and will continue to do so, via both kinetic activities and by reaching agreements.”

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Addressing soldiers at the front, Gallant said their mission “is to eliminate Hamas, to win this war.”

“Our job is to take it to the next level in Gaza and across the Middle East. These issues are connected.”

Gallant also responded to a video released recently by a masked IDF soldier calling on other service members to disobey orders from Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, should they order the IDF to turn over control of the Gaza Strip.

“In the IDF there is only one authority – it is the authority held by the Commander, and each person has his own commander, whether it’s the platoon commander, battalion commander, brigade or division commander – and finally there’s the Chief of the General Staff,” said Gallant.

“He is the one who directs the military. There are no external parties or actors speaking on his behalf. This is the law and that’s how it works and will continue to work.”