Netanyahu declares ‘there is a date’ for Rafah operation

‘This victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen; there is a date.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Amid speculation of the war concluding with the withdrawal of IDF troops from southern Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah and declared “there is a date” for the operation.

In a video message released to the public on Monday, Netanyahu said, “This victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen; there is a date.”

The Prime Minister on several occasions has emphasized that military activity in Rafah is necessary to eliminate Hamas from Gaza.

As negotiations continue in Cairo for the release of hostages and a pause in fighting, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was concerned that Israel was caving to demands and was scrapping its plans to operate in Rafah.

Ben Gvir threatened that he would leave the government if Israel canceled its Rafah mission or ended the war prematurely.

Monday’s statement came after the IDF removed Brigade 98 from Gaza and said that it was making the move to regroup, not to retreat and that it was preparing for further military activity in Gaza.

The United States reiterated its concerns about military operations in Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are located during the 6-month-long war.

US National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told reporters that “we have consistently made clear that we don’t support a major ground operation in Rafah.”

“I would also add that we don’t see any signs that such a major ground operation is imminent, or that these troops are being repositioned” for such an operation, Kirby said.

The Israelis have assured us that there will be no operations in and around Rafah until we have had a chance to talk to them at greater length about the viable options and alternatives to a major ground operation,” Kirby concluded.

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi are traveling to Washington to meet with members of the Biden Administration after Netanyahu canceled such a meeting and instead held a virtual conversation with the Biden Administration.