Netanyahu assures that “there is already a date” to invade Rafah

Israel’s victory over Hamas “requires entering Rafah and eliminating terrorist battalions. It will happen: there is a date”, said the Prime Minister.

IDF soldiers walking in the desert next to a line of tanks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Monday that there is already “a date” for the Israeli invasion of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where thousands of Palestinians sought refuge following the start of the war.

In a video message, Netanyahu explained that he has received detailed information about the progress of indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Cairo to achieve a ceasefire agreement and the release of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s victory over Hamas “requires entering Rafah and eliminating terrorist battalions. It will happen: there is a date,” said the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu seemed to be responding to criticism from his far-right partners in the government, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who in recent hours have issued warnings to the prime minister regarding progress in negotiations and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the southern Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu is under internal pressure from his far-right coalition partners, who are angered by rumors of a truce, as well as by Israel’s withdrawal of troops from southern Gaza on Sunday.

“If Netanyahu decides to end the war without a broad assault on Rafah, he will not have the mandate to serve as prime minister,” said Ben Gvir, leader of the Jewish Power party and Minister of National Security.

Meanwhile, the United States said on Monday that it still opposes a major Israeli attack on the city of Rafah.

With around 1.5 million Palestinians taking refuge in Rafah, “we have made it clear to Israel that we believe a large-scale military invasion of Rafah would have a hugely damaging effect on those civilians and ultimately would damage Israel’s security,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

Meanwhile, a Hamas source confirmed to the EFE news agency that the group has received a proposal for an agreement that includes the return of displaced people to Gaza, but not to their homes, rather to refugee camps.

“We believe that the occupation is trying to buy time by pretending to make serious offers,” said the source, emphasizing that Hamas will not accept any agreement that does not include a ceasefire leading to the end of the war, allowing the displaced to return home, the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces, and a substantial increase in humanitarian aid.

Nevertheless, the source pointed out that Hamas leaders in Gaza will discuss the proposal before giving a definitive response.

The White House said on Monday that negotiators in the Egyptian capital had presented Hamas with a proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an agreement on hostages.

“It will now be up to Hamas to achieve it,” he said, describing the talks as “serious.”

The Gaza war was triggered by the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants, resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,207 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory.

Of the approximately 250 Israeli and foreign hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7, 129 remain in Gaza, of which, according to the army, 34 are dead.

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