Sunday, May 19, 2024

Israel will invade Gaza’s Rafah ‘with or without deal’ with Hamas: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on  Tuesday the army will invade Rafah in southern Gaza Strip despite reports of a possible cease-fire deal with the Palestinian group Hamas.

“The idea that we will stop the war before achieving all its objectives is out of the question,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with families of Israeli soldiers, as quoted in a statement from his office.

He said the Israeli army would enter Rafah to destroy Hamas’ battalions there “with or without a deal.”

Netanyahu added the evacuation of civilians from Rafah has begun.

“We have begun the evacuation of the population in Rafah. We will be there soon.”

Home to more than 1.4 million displaced Palestinians, Rafah is the last remaining area in the Gaza Strip where Israel has not yet formally announced the entry of its troops to continue the onslaught against Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s statements came amid reports of a new cease-fire proposal being discussed by Hamas and Israel to end the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The new proposal includes Israel’s willingness to discuss the “restoration of sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial release of hostages on humanitarian grounds, two Israeli officials told news website Axios.

Hamas is expected to deliver its response to the truce proposal later this week.

Israel has waged an unrelenting offensive on the Palestinian enclave since a cross-border attack by Hamas last Oct. 7 which killed some 1,200 people.

More than 34,500 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and thousands of others injured amid mass destruction and severe shortages of necessities.

More than six months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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