Netanyahu to reveal details of Rafah offensive operation

According to Israel, there are four Hamas battalions positioned in Rafah.

By JNS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to present plans for an Israel Defense Forces offensive in Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold in the Gaza Strip, amid mounting international pressure for an immediate ceasefire.

“I will convene the Cabinet to approve the operational plans for action in Rafah, including the evacuation of the civilian population,” tweeted Netanyahu.

“Only a combination of military pressure and firm negotiations will lead to the release of our hostages, the elimination of Hamas and the achievement of all the war’s objectives,” he added.

According to Israel, there are four Hamas battalions positioned in Rafah, the population of which has swelled to some 1.5 million, more than half of Gaza’s total of 2.3 million, after the IDF directed civilians to a humanitarian zone there when fighting began in October.

“We very much want to achieve another [hostage] release and we are prepared to go far, but we are not prepared to pay any price, certainly not the delusional prices that Hamas is demanding of us, the meaning of which is the defeat of the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu last week.

He added that those calling for Israel to forgo an operation in Rafah were effectively urging the IDF to surrender to Hamas.

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“I speak with world leaders every day. I tell them decisively: Israel will fight until we achieve total victory. And indeed, this includes action in Rafah, of course after we allow the civilians found in the combat zones to evacuate to safe areas,” said Netanyahu.

“Whoever wants to prevent us from operating in Rafah is telling us in effect to lose the war. I will not allow this…. We will not surrender to any pressure. We will not surrender, because we are a people of heroes. We will not surrender because we are a people that desires life. We will not surrender because we must—must—defeat the evil,” he added.

The comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden demanded a temporary ceasefire to secure the release of hostages in Gaza, claiming that a deal “has to” go through before Israel launches a military operation in Rafah.

In a call on Thursday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of defense, raised “the need for a credible plan to ensure the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering in Rafah before any military operations proceed there.”

The call came after a Pentagon spokeswoman said that the U.S. Defense Department was unaware of any plans being presented to Washington regarding how Israel would protect Palestinian civilians in Rafah during a ground operation.

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Earlier this month, Netanyahu attempted to assuage the concerns of Jerusalem’s allies, highlighting plans for the safe passage of Palestinians “so they can leave” Rafah.

To this end, the premier ordered the security establishment to submit to the Cabinet a combined plan to evacuate civilians and target Hamas’s remaining battalions.

“We have worked out a detailed plan to do so. And that’s what we have done up to now,” explained Netanyahu. “We are not cavalier about this. This is part of our war effort, to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’s effort to keep them in harm’s way. But we’ve so far succeeded and we are going to succeed again.”