PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO) (Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)
Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu asked world leaders how they can expect Israel ‘to leave a quarter of Hamas’s [organized fighting] force intact, in a defined territory. We won’t allow that.’

By Shula Rosen

During a press conference on Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that without the operation in Rafah, Israel will lose the war.

World leaders, including US President Joe Biden have opposed Israel’s incursion into Rafah, although the Netanyahu has been firm on the necessity of fighting in Rafah in the southern part of Gaza.

The operation in Rafah has been discouraged by Israelis allies, most notably the US, because of the more than a million Gazan civilians sheltering there to avoid fighting in the rest of Gaza.

Netanyahu indicated it would be possible to fight in Rafah and accomplish the IDF’s goals of eliminating Hamas’s presence there while still evacuating the civilian population.

He said, “There is a lot of space north of Rafah” to evacuate the civilians. “There will be space for evacuation.”

“We have to do this in an orderly fashion — and that’s the instruction I’ve given to the IDF.”

Netanyahu said his policy was to stay firm on achieving Israel’s goal to eliminate Hamas and not to give in to international pressure intended to dissuade Israel from finishing the war and fighting in Rafah.

The Prime Minister said that in his conversations with world leaders, he asked how they can expect Israel “to leave a quarter of Hamas’s [organized fighting] force intact, in a defined territory. We won’t allow that.”

Regarding a potential hostage deal, Netanyahu said he would welcome one if Hamas gave up its “delusional” demands and even with such an agreement, Israel would still operate in Rafah.

He said, “Even if we achieve it, we will go into Rafah.”

Netanyahu continued, “There is no alternative to total victory. And there is no way to achieve total victory without destroying those battalions in Rafah, and we will do so.”