Netanyahu Promises a Ground Invasion of Rafah

( – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains defiant in the face of international pressure to let Hamas off the hook. Governments and human rights groups are demanding Israel hold back from sending its troops into Rafah, the last unoccupied city in Gaza. However, Netanyahu is vowing to keep going until Hamas’s control over the region is completely broken.

On February 25, Netanyahu told journalists that, whatever happens with the latest ceasefire negotiations, Israel will capture Rafah. The city is crammed with refugees from the rest of Gaza and its population has ballooned to around 1.4 million people. However, the bulk of Hamas’s surviving armed terrorists are also in the city, and Netanyahu said Israel is still determined to destroy the organization’s ability to repeat the atrocities of October 7 last year.

President Biden appears equally determined to stop Israel from taking Rafah. He’s pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that would call for a ceasefire. Israel is trying to negotiate its own temporary ceasefire with Hamas — but only on the condition the terrorist group releases the remaining Israeli hostages it abducted on October 7. Netanyahu says a deal is achievable, but Hamas’s demands are on “another planet” and need to be more realistic. He also warned that even if a deal is reached, that isn’t going to prevent an Israeli advance into Rafah; it will only delay it.

Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant also confirmed that Hamas isn’t going to be allowed to survive. He said the terror group’s remaining forces are “marginal,” and their final collapse is down to “a decision by the IDF.” He added that the Israeli Defense Forces have so far destroyed 18 of Hamas’s 24 regional battalions and called Rafah “the next Hamas center of gravity.”

Security minister Benny Gantz has set a deadline for the return of the surviving hostages — the beginning of Ramadan on March 11. If Israel’s missing citizens aren’t back home by then, he warned, “the fighting will… expand to Rafah.”

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