Netanyahu Defies Opposition, Claims Date Set for Rafah Invasion

( – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going full steam ahead with his invasion of Gaza. He recently indicated he’d set a date for military action in Rafah. However, the country’s defense minister later contradicted him.

Approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering in the city along the border with Egypt as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bomb other parts of the country. They are living in makeshift, crowded refugee camps and tents. The International community, including US President Joe Biden and the United Nations, have urged the prime minister to abandon his plan to invade the city, citing the potential for high civilian casualties. Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including many women and children, have already died in the conflict.

Netanyahu recently announced he had set a date for the invasion into Rafah. According to BBC, his remarks came after far-right government allies called on him to increase military action in Gaza. He has had to rely on those leaders for support to stay in power. The group of far-right officials is vehemently opposed to making any concessions to Hamas and wants Netanyahu to invade Rafah soon.

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, said that if Netanyahu ends the war against Hamas without invading Rafah, “he won’t have a mandate to continue serving as prime minister.” Bezalel Smotrich, the far-right finance minister, also urged the prime minister to “increase pressure on Hamas in Gaza.”

Netanyahu responded on April 8, saying victory in the war “requires entry into Rafah […] It will happen — there is a date.”

Axios reported that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin the same day Netanyahu made the remarks and reportedly told him that it wasn’t true that they’d set a date. Gallant reportedly said they would have to evacuate the area before taking any action in the city and needed to increase humanitarian aid first.

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