IDF Will Enter Rafah Regardless of Hostage Deal

2024-02-25 13:00:29

Israel was determined to capture the last-standing terrorist stronghold of Rafah regardless of the outcome of ongoing hostage negotiations with the terror group Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the CBS News on Sunday.

A temporary ceasefire agreed under a possible hostage deal may delay the Israeli offensive on Rafah, but the country was committed to driving out Hamas from Gaza, the Israeli leader vowed. “If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen,” prime minister Netanyahu said. “If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” he added. (Read the full transcript of Netanyahu’s interview on Face the Nation here.)

On Saturday, media reports suggested that Hamas had ‘softened’ its stance and was willing to lower its demands for the releasing close to hundred Israel hostages after nearly twenty weeks of captivity. The Sky News (UK) reported that “[t]here has been “progress” in talks on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas in Paris after the group “dropped some of its demands”.” The unspecified concessions were made by Hamas during the recently concluded talks in Paris.

Netanyahu’s statement comes as Israel’s wartime cabinet is set to approve a military and humanitarian plan for capturing Rafah aimed at eliminating Hamas’s Gaza-based terrorist leadership, freeing the remaining hostages and minimizing civilian casualties. The Israel prime minister “says the cabinet will convene next week to approve the IDF’s plans for Rafah, including the evacuation of civilians from the area,” The Times of Israel reported Saturday.

The Jerusalem Post reported prime minister’s comments:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an early Sunday morning interview with CBS, told the broadcaster that the IDF was heading into Gaza’s Rafah and that plans for such an operation would be approved that day, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated.

Reporting on Netanyahu’s remarks in the CBS interview, Reuters noted that the operation would include a plan to facilitate the evacuation of Palestinian civilians, as well as an assault on the local Hamas battalions.

“We are working on a hostage deal. I want a deal to release the hostages, and I appreciate the efforts of the United States. I do not know if we will get a deal, but if Hamas comes down to a reasonable situation, there will be a deal,” Netanyahu said during the interview, Maariv quoted the prime minister as stating.

“If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen,” Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying. “If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” he told CBS.

IDF preparing groundwork for Rafah anti-terror offensive

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are already preparing the groundwork for an offensive on Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza located on Egyptian border, Israeli media reports indicate.

“Israel is preparing to destroy the presence of the four remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah, located in the south of the Gaza Strip, and is intensifying its exchanges with Egypt to prevent any tension,” the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reported Sunday. “Furthermore, Jerusalem will work closely with Cairo to plan the construction of an underground barrier aimed at preventing future infiltrations into Gaza, according to Israeli media reporting.”

IDF catches Hamas terrorists attempting to flee southern Gaza using humanitarian corridors

As Israeli ground troops tighten the noose around Hamas strongholds, the terrorists are using humanitarian corridors to escape fighting and melt into Gaza’s population. The military captured several Hamas terrorists attempting to flee southern Gaza using humanitarian corridor, the IDF revealed Sunday.

“IDF troops are continuing their operational activity in western Khan Yunis,” the military disclosed in a press statement. “Over the past day, during efforts to evacuate the civilian population from combat zones, the troops identified and apprehended terrorists who had attempted to escape by hiding amongst the civilians.”

IDF: Soldier believed to be captive in Gaza murdered on October 7, body held by terrorists

The IDF on Sunday announced that one of its soldiers, 20-year-old Ido Eli Zrihen, presumed to be among the 253 hostages taken captive by Hamas on October 7, was killed during the initial massacre and his body was taken by the terrorists to Gaza. The revelation is based on newly-uncovered intelligence, news reports day.

Israeli is seeking to free remaining 136 hostages, including women and children, taken by Hamas on October 7. Several of them may have been murdered or succumbed to Hamas torture, intelligence sources believe.

The Israel news website Ynet reported:

Earlier Sunday, the IDF announced that Staff Sergeant Ido Eli Zrihen, 20, from Jerusalem and Staff Sergeant Narya Belete, 21, from Shavei Shomron, both of the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, were killed in a battle in southern Gaza. Three others were badly hurt in the same battle.

Zrihen will be laid to rest later on Sunday in the military cemetery at Mt. Herzl.

Belete comes from a family that immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia and was the second-born child out of six. He was buried in the military cemetery in Netanya.

Since October 7, 579 IDF soldiers have been killed, 239 of them since the beginning of the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. There are 317 wounded soldiers hospitalized for injuries sustained in fighting, including 29 in serious condition. Since the outbreak of the war, 2,965 soldiers have been injured, 453 of them in serious condition.

Hamas shocked by Israeli response to October 7 massacre, senior operative claims

Senior Hamas terror operative, Mousa Abu Marzouk, claimed in an Arabic TV interview that the Islamic terrorist group was taken aback by the Israel’s military response to the horrific mass-killings of its civilians on October 7. Abu Marzouk, member of of Hamas’s so-called Political Bureau, claimed that not just Israel, but the U.S. and the West was waging a “world war” on them.


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IDF Will Enter Rafah Regardless of Hostage Deal


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