Netanyahu claims a date has been set for invasion of Rafah

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Netanyahu claims a date has been set for invasion of Rafah

Shortly after Netanyahu's announcement, U.S. State Department spokesman said that Washington hadn't been briefed on the plans

Prime Minister Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, April 7, 2024. Credit: GPO
Prime Minister Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, April 7, 2024. Credit: GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that Israel plans to invade the southernmost city of Gaza and a date has been set. 

“Today I received a detailed report on the talks in Cairo. We are working constantly to attain our objectives, first and foremost the release of all of our hostages and the achieving of total victory over Hamas. This victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen; there is a date,” he said

Netanyahu’s claim came after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened to topple the government if Israel doesn’t launch a ground invasion of Rafah.

Shortly after Netanyahu’s announcement, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that Washington hadn’t been briefed on the plans.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby elaborated on the issue, saying: “We don’t see any signs that such a major ground operation is imminent or that these troops [being withdrawn from southern Gaza on Sunday) are being repositioned for that kind of ground operation.”

Israel has insisted for months that the IDF needs to enter Rafah to destroy the remaining four Hamas battalions as well as to attempt to free the hostages believed to be held there.

But the U.S. has pushed back on the plans, demanding Israel present a viable plan to evacuate the 1,4 million civilian Palestinians from Rafah.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Thursday, 25 January 2024, planted a tree in honor of Tu B’Shvat, together with soldiers of the 414th Battalion, at IDF Gaza Division HQ at the Reim base.
Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that some 40,000 tents have been bought as part of the plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah to humanitarian islands north of the city.

The security cabinet is scheduled to meet tonight to discuss the withdrawal of troops from southern Gaza as well as the ongoing hostage negotiations with Hamas.

The meeting was called following pressure by Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich. In a letter to Netanyahu, Smotrich wrote: “Due to the current situation of the withdrawal of manoeuvring forces from Gaza and the lowering of war’s intensity in general, while delaying the advance into Rafah for weeks, together with reports of Israel’s willingness to discuss the return of Gazan civilians to the northern Gaza Strip and to in fact end the war, and in addition to reports about the negotiation teams the full mandate, I demand that you convene the cabinet this evening for a special discussion in which we will receive a full update and all of the information on the situation of the war.”

“The only forum that is authorised to make decisive decisions during the war is the expanded cabinet, but unfortunately, things aren’t working that way and we see that decisions are being made in the War Cabinet without approval or updating the expanded cabinet under international pressure which harms the war’s momentum and our security interests.”

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