Netanyahu says 'intense phase' in Rafah about to end, Gaza war to go on

AFP , Sunday 23 Jun 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the "intense phase" of the Gaza war in the southern border city of Rafah is nearly over but emphasized that the broader attack on Gaza has not ended.

Israeli tanks
This handout picture released by the Israeli army on June 23, 2024 reportedly shows Israeli army armoured vehicles operating in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP


"After the end of the intense phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north, and we will do that. Primarily for defensive purposes but also to bring the (displaced) residents back home," Netanyahu said in his first interview with an Israeli network since the start of Israel's war on Gaza on 7 October.

In its latest update, the Palestinian health ministry said Sunday that at least 37,598 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza since the war starte, .mostly children and women.

The toll includes at least 47 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 86,032 had been wounded since the war began.

Netanyahu said he would not agree to any deal that stipulates an end to the war, indicating that he was open to a "partial" deal that would facilitate the return of some Israeli captives still held in Gaza, if not all.

United States officials have raised doubts over Israel's goal of completely eliminating Hamas, and on Wednesday Israel's top army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said: "To say that we are going to make Hamas disappear is to throw sand in people's eyes."

He said Hamas is an ideology and "we cannot eliminate an ideology."

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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