Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Says ‘There Is A Date’ For Rafah Offensive

“Victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there,” the Israeli prime minister said in a video announcement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said a date has been set for the invasion of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, despite the opposition of many of the country’s allies, including the U.S.

“Victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there,” Netanyahu said in a video posted on social media, according to The Times of Israel. “This will happen. There is a date.”

The Israeli leader provided no further details and did not disclose when the offensive would take place.

This comes after Israeli forces announced they were withdrawing from Khan Younis, leaving widespread destruction behind, as the country also drew condemnation for the killing of seven international aid workers of the World Central Kitchen charity last week.

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s spokesperson, told “Face the Nation” on CBS Sunday that Israel indicated to the White House that the withdrawal from Khan Younis would simply be used as an opportunity for its forces to “rest and refit” for the next stage of their offensive against the Hamas militant group.

“We have been very clear with the prime minister and his team that we don’t support a ground operation in Rafah, that there are other ways, other options that they need to look at, for how they’re going to go after the Hamas that still is in Rafah,” Kirby said.

About half of Gaza’s population has sought refuge in Rafah, sparking worries of even further devastation if Israel follows through with its plan to invade the city.

The leaders of Jordan, France and Egypt on Monday called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the besieged territory and for the release of all hostages still in the custody of Palestinian militant groups in an op-ed published by several news outlets, including The Washington Post, as they warned Israel against invading Rafah.

“As we urge all parties to abide by all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, we warn against the dangerous consequences of an Israeli offensive on Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge,” they wrote. “Such an offensive would only bring more death and suffering, heighten the risks and consequences of mass displacement of the people of Gaza and threaten regional escalation.”

So far, over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to local officials.

Meanwhile, CIA Director William Burns is in Cairo as cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas, also mediated by Egypt and Qatar are underway.

However, discussions have so far failed to yield any tangible results. Hamas on Monday rejected a proposal presented by Israel, a senior official of the group told Reuters. It is unclear what the offer entailed.

About 1,200 people were killed by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack on Southern Israel and as of Sunday 134 hostages remained in the group’s custody.

The family of Omer Neutra, an Israeli-American hostage, told CNN’s “State of The Union” Sunday, “It’s not clear whether the Israeli administration has the priority right,” as they lamented the lack of progress on hostage negotiations.

“I can’t believe we’re sitting here six months later,” Neutra’s father said, “and having to experience the terror every day.”

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