Israel Will Launch Rafah Invasion With Or Without Ceasefire Agreement – Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a briefing near the Salem military post in the occupied West Bank on July 4, 2023. Israel's biggest military operation for years in the occupied West Bank continued for a second day on July 4, leaving at least 10 Palestinians dead and forcing thousands to flee their homes as the government said it struck "with great strength" the militant stronghold. (Photo by Shir TOREM / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SHIR TOREM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel will attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah regardless of whether or not a ceasefire and hostage release deal is reached, Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

According to a statement from his office, the Israeli prime minister said: “The idea that we will stop the war before achieving all its objectives is out of the question.”

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His statement came after reports that Israel would only invade Rafah if Hamas refuses to accept a ceasefire deal.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has approved final plans for a military manoeuvre in Rafah, the only large city in Gaza largely unaffected by fighting, and has made arrangements for the evacuation of civilians from there, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday. 

Mr Netanyahu, who is hosting Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, is scheduled to meet this evening with Itamar Ben-Gvir, his national security minister, who is staunchly opposed to a ceasefire.

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On Monday, top Western officials including Mr Blinken and David Cameron urged Hamas to accept an “extraordinarily generous” deal on the table. 

A Hamas delegation has already left Cairo where the mediated talks are being held and are expected to return on Wednesday with a written response to the proposal.

Senior US officials previously complained that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, appeared to be the only stumbling block to the deal.

Israel has reportedly moderated its demand of getting 40 vulnerable hostages released in the first phase of the deal to 33, whereas Hamas insists it does not have more than 20 hostages who would be female, underage, injured or elderly.

The deal would also allow displaced Palestinians to return to what is left of their homes in the badly damaged north of Gaza.

Israel has reportedly agreed for Egyptian officials, not IDF soldiers, to conduct security checks for those wishing to go back north.

Mr Blinken will be meeting with Israeli leadership later on Tuesday in a bid to reaffirm Israel’s agreement to the hostage deal and dissuade it from invading Rafah, something that Washington staunchly opposes.

Photo Credit: Getty

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