Israel’s total victory is ‘weeks away’ – Netanyahu

Aprilia Rine

Israel’s total victory is ‘weeks away’ – Netanyahu
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Hamas will be defeated shortly after a ground offensive in Rafah, the Jewish state’s prime minister has claimed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested that West Jerusalem’s forces will soon achieve “total victory” in their war against Hamas once they begin a major ground offensive planned at the southern end of the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu’s government has faced international pressure to cancel the Rafah campaign because around 1.4 million civilians are taking refuge in the city after being driven from other parts of the Palestinian enclave by Israeli bombardments. Cvilians will be evacuated into previously cleared areas to the north of Rafah before the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) storm Gaza’s last Hamas stronghold, the PM explained

Speaking in a CBS News interview on Sunday, Netanyahu said the offensive in Rafah, Gaza, will be briefly delayed if a temporary ceasefire is negotiated with Hamas, but it will happen sooner or later. “If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” he said. “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.”

“Victory is in reach, and you can’t have victory until you eliminate Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion.”

He added that the IDF has already destroyed 18 of the 24 Hamas battalions in Gaza, and four of the surviving units are concentrated in Rafah, near the enclave’s border with Egypt.

Netanyahu insisted that Israeli forces won’t force Palestinian civilians into Egypt, jeopardizing diplomatic relations with Cairo. Asked about US demands for a “credible” plan to evacuate displaced Gazans from Rafah, he said, “We don’t have to be prodded. We’re on the same page with the US on this because that’s how we do it.”

The war began when Hamas fighters launched surprise attacks against southern Israeli villages on October 7, killing more than 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza. Netanyahu said the conflict can only end when Israel achieves its three key goals: eliminating Hamas, freeing the hostages, and ensuring that Gaza never again poses a threat to West Jerusalem.

READ MORE: US blocks third Gaza ceasefire push at UN

Negotiations for a ceasefire – to enable an exchange of Hamas hostages for Palestinians held in Israeli jails – started on Friday in Paris. A deal will only be possible if Hamas backs down from its “crazy demands,” Netanyahu said. Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to local health authorities.

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