Netanyahu Confirms Timeline for Rafah Offensive

( – An Israeli offensive on the north Gaza city of Rafah has been scheduled, with a date confirmed, according to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking on Monday, April 8th, Netanyahu did not publicly specify the date but was adamant that the assault on the “terrorist battalions” in the city would go ahead.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, however, told U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin the same day that a date had not yet been agreed, as there was much work to be done before any concerted military action could be taken in the area. Gallant is reported to have alluded to a need to arrange an effective evacuation of civilians from the area, as well as enabling an increase in humanitarian aid to the more than one million non-combatant Gazans currently staying in the city. As well as hosting its own population, Rafah is currently home to many Gazans who have fled other areas that have been subject to more intensive fighting.

Israeli authorities face a difficult task in balancing their professed aims of destroying Hamas, which itself has vowed to repeat its October 7th, 2023, massacre of Israelis, while also taking steps to avoid deepening the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the area. Many countries, including the U.S., have put diplomatic pressure on Israel to find ways to increase the aid flowing into Gaza, with international charity Oxfam claiming that 300,000 people in the north of Gaza have had to live on just 245 calories a day since the beginning of 2024.

Netanyahu has reiterated that his goals are to attain “complete victory” over the terrorist group Hamas, which functions as Gaza’s governing body, as well as the release of the remaining 130 hostages held by Hamas and allied Islamist cells. The Israeli government estimates that around a quarter of the hostages have already been killed, and it faces tremendous pressure from its citizens to prioritize the safe return of those who are still alive. Netanyahu stated on April 8th that tackling Hamas fighters in Rafah is necessary in order to achieve Israel’s goals.

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