Saturday, May 25, 2024

Israel’s finance minister calls on government to “learn lessons” and “move on to Rafah”

Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has urged the Israeli government to "learn lessons" and move on to Rafah" in the Gaza Strip.

In a post on X, Smotrich said that he had warned that “giving up on Israel’s red lines and chasing after Hamas for a deal” would “only decrease” the chance of bringing Israeli hostages held in Gaza back.

“It’s time to learn lessons, change direction, move on to Rafah now and restore full Israeli control all over the Gaza Strip,” Smotrich added.

The far-right minister has, in the past, denied the existence of a Palestinian people or nationhood, prompting a rebuke from the United States in March 2023.

More than 1 million Palestinian civilians are estimated to be sheltering in Rafah in southern Gaza, most of them displaced from other parts of the besieged enclave and crammed into a sprawling tent city.

Israel has been threatening an invasion into Rafah for some time now – despite pushback from allies like the US. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had set a date for the action, adding that “entry into Rafah” is necessary for a “complete victory over Hamas”.

Israel has waged a military offensive on the Gaza Strip since early October. More than 33,700 Palestinians have since been killed and over 76,300 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Palestinian territory, leaving its population, particularly residents of Northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last week asked it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

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