Rafah Invasion Will Happen With Or Without Hostage Deal: Netanyahu

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 30, 2024 - 01:45 PM

Despite immense pressure coming from the Biden administration for Israel to secure the hostage deal that's on the table with Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged that an invasion of Rafah will go on with or without a deal.

He issued the words Tuesday while speaking to an audience sympathetic to his hardline coalition. "The idea that we will stop the war before achieving all its aims is not an option," Netanyahu said. "We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions therewhether or not there is a deal — in order to achieve total victory."

In reference to the hawkish Gvura and Tikva forums a statement from by the Prime Minister’s Office indicated that "the groups urged Netanyahu and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to continue the war and to resist international pressure."

Times of Israel/GPO

According to an AP description, "Netanyahu on Tuesday was addressing the Tikva Forum, a small group of families of hostages that’s distinct from the main group representing the families of captive Israelis that has indicated it prefers to see Hamas crushed over the freedom of their loved ones."

The timing of the strong statement is interesting given it came as he met with ultra hardline National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has vowed to quit the government if Israel doesn't proceed with the Rafah ground offensive. Netanyahu said the words also hours ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arriving in the country.

The AFP on Tuesday has reported that Israel to wait until Wednesday night for a Hamas response to the Gaza truce proposal, according to unnamed Israeli officials.

The Biden administration is desperate to see a deal through, also given it would ease the ratcheting pressure on Biden related to the ongoing revolt of Progressive Democrats ahead of the election over the plight of Palestinians.

This certainly isn't the first time that Netanyahu government officials have issued such declarations. For example in March, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer was quoted in Bloomberg as saying the military is going to invade Rafah and defeat Hamas "even if the entire world turns on Israel, including the United States."

And at the start of this week, in statements to NBC, US officials expressed confidence that they do not believe Israel is ready to launch a full-scale invasion of Rafah. 

Blinken has called Israel's current ceasefire deal on the table "extraordinarily generous" and that Hamas must take it. A Hamas official was quoted as saying, "The new proposal is a positive development, but it is too early to be optimistic."

From the Israeli side, there have been contradictory statements issued, which is sometimes typical as a negotiating tactic. Over the weekend Israeli officials reportedly gave Hamas an ultimatum, saying the group has "one last chance" to reach a deal, according to Axios. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday"If there is a deal, we will suspend the operation" - in reference to the planned Rafah ground offensive.

But Netanyahu appears to have just thrown cold water on that, in his fresh statements perhaps meant by design to collapse the fragile talks just before they reach the finish line.