Netanyahu for stepping up attacks in Rafah even as truce talks underway

Tel Aviv, Feb 26 (IANS): Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that a military operation in Rafah was necessary to ensure victory in the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza strip.

Speaking to Hebrew media on Sunday night, PM Netanyahu said that once the Israel Army begins the Rafah operation, the war would be completed in a few weeks with full victory.

The Israel Prime Minister said, “We won't give up.”

He also said that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have destroyed 18 of the 24 battalions of the Hamas terror force, but added that four of the remaining battalions were concentrated in Rafah. He said that these battalions have to be taken care of to ensure total victory and to wrap up the war as soon as possible.

The statement of the Israel Prime Minister has come just as hectic mediatory talks for a temporary ceasefire and release of Israeli hostages were taking place at the behest of the US, Qatar and Egypt.

Meanwhile, the IDF presented to the War Cabinet its plan to both evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah and to militarily destroy some of the last Hamas battalions in the area of Gaza near the Egyptian border.

The Israel Prime Minister's office in a statement said, “The Israel war cabinet has approved a plan late Sunday night to provide humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip in a manner that will prevent the looting that has occurred in the northern Strip and other areas,”

It may be noted that there are over 1.3 million Palestinians in the Rafah area, many of whom fled to this area to escape the IDF bombing in the north of Gaza. The US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that Israel, Egypt and Qatar had come to an understanding in Paris about the “basic contours of a hostage deal for a temporary ceasefire”.

Speaking to the International media, Sullivan said, “There will now be indirect discussions by Qatar and Egypt with Hamas because ultimately they will have to agree to release the hostages. That work is underway. And we hope that in the coming days, we can drive to a point where there is a firm and final agreement.”



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Title: Netanyahu for stepping up attacks in Rafah even as truce talks underway

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