Netanyahu Promises Rafah Invasion Regardless of Hostage Agreement

( – The Israeli Prime Minister has promised that the long-discussed ground invasion of Rafah, a city in the south of Gaza, will go ahead whether or not his negotiators manage to make a deal with the terror group Hamas. The terrorist group that governs Gaza still holds more than 130 hostages it kidnapped during its brutal October 7th raids on Israel.

Israeli authorities say that the country’s forces have conducted targeted strikes and raids on Rafah, where more than a million Gazans currently reside. According to the Israeli Defense Force, Hamas still has several battalions operating from the city, making Rafah an important target as part of Israel’s goal to destroy Hamas and prevent it from fulfilling its vow to repeat its violent rampage of October 7th, which saw over 1,200 people murdered in the streets by Hamas operatives and other Palestinian gunmen.

The subject of the Rafah invasion has prompted fierce debate and warnings from around the world, with the Biden administration trying to warn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu away from actions that would cause a rise in the non-combatant death toll. Netanyahu also faces criticism from his fellow Israelis, some of whom are concerned that a Rafah invasion could prevent a deal being made to bring home the surviving hostages. It is not clear how many of the kidnapped have since been killed or have died from injuries sustained on October 7th, 2023.

While speaking on Tuesday, April 30th, to the Tikva Forum which represents relatives of the hostages who take the stance that a hostage deal must not come at the expense of Israel’s victory, Netanyahu swore that the Rafah invasion would proceed regardless of any deal that may be struck. These comments were also echoed when speaking to hardline members of his coalition government, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who told reporters that the Prime Minister promised that no “reckless deal” would be made.

The latest hostage deal, being mediated by Egypt and Qatar, could see an initial release of dozens of hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and a six-week ceasefire, although Hamas is reportedly looking for a total cessation of Israeli military action in exchange for all the remaining hostages, despite having previously claimed not to know the whereabouts or status of all those its forces kidnapped.

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