Rafah operation will put Israel weeks away from 'total victory': Netanyahu

AFP , Sunday 25 Feb 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the military operation into Gaza's Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in tent cities, would put Israel within weeks of "total victory" over Hamas.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AFP


Negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza have resumed in Doha, state-linked Egyptian media reported, but Netanyahu said any deal would not prevent the Rafah offensive.

"If we have a (ceasefire) deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen," he told CBS.

"If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway. It has to be done, because total victory is our goal, and total victory is within reach, not months away, weeks away, once we begin the operation."

An Israeli delegation was in Paris on Friday to discuss a deal on a fresh ceasefire and the release of captives held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The talks then restarted in Doha, including Hamas representatives.

"We're all working on it. We want it. I want it. Because we want to liberate the remaining captives," Netanyahu said.

"I can't tell you if we'll have it, but if Hamas goes down from its delusional claims and brings them down to Earth, we'll have the progress that we all want."

During the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7, the Palestinian group took some 250 captives, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.

As with a previous week-long truce in November that saw more than 100 captives and 240 Palestinian prisoners freed, Qatar, Egypt, and the United States have been spearheading efforts to secure a new deal.

International pressure for a ceasefire has mounted in recent weeks, as the death toll from Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip nears 30,000, 70% of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Asked about US demands for Israel to protect civilians in Rafah, Netanyahu said his military chiefs would on Sunday show him "a dual plan, a plan to evacuate and a plan to dismantle those remaining (Hamas) battalions."

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

Short link: