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Business News/ News / Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu adamant to claim victory: ‘Ceasefire deal would only delay military offensive in Rafah’
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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu adamant to claim victory: ‘Ceasefire deal would only delay military offensive in Rafah’

Israeli PM Netanyahu confirmed a ceasefire deal in the works but said the military operation into Gaza's Rafah would enable Israel to claim total victory over Hamas.

A donkey-pulling car passing in front of the Al-Faruq mosque, levelled by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 25, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)Premium
A donkey-pulling car passing in front of the Al-Faruq mosque, levelled by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 25, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, February 25, said that an Israeli military offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah could be “delayed somewhat" if a deal is reached for a weekslong ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

He further claimed that total victory in the territory would come within weeks once the offensive begins in Rafah, as four of the six remaining Hamas battalions are concentrated there. Thus, Israel is set to undertake plans to expand its offensive against the Hamas militant group to Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, even as humanitarian groups have warned of a catastrophe. In Rafah, more than half the besieged Palestinian population of 2.3 million have sought refuge and is Gaza’s main entry point for aid.

Also read: Israel-Hamas War: 1.5 million Palestinian civilians forced to evacuate due to Israeli attacks; 10 updates

Israel confirmed the news about a deal in progress, reported CBS. An Egyptian official informed Egypt’s state-run Al Qahera TV that talks over the ceasefire resumed on Sunday in Qatar, and discussions would follow in Cairo to release hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Also read: Israel-Gaza war: ‘Hamas doesn’t represent Palestinian people,’ says US President Joe Biden

The Israeli PM is set to head a meeting of the Cabinet this week to approve operational plans, including the evacuation of civilians in Rafah to elsewhere in Gaza. Netanyahu said, “Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion. Not months," reported CBS. “If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway."

Also read: Netanyahu Says He’ll Soon Have Plan for Rafah Civilians

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan claimed that President Joe Biden hadn’t been briefed on the Rafah plan and said, “We believe that this operation should not go forward until or unless we see (a plan to protect civilians)," reported NBC.

The ongoing mediatory talks in Egypt, where Qatar is acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, have resulted in the drafting of the ceasefire deal. This deal includes the release of at least 40 women and elderly hostages in return for at least 300 Palestinian prisoners, who are mostly women, minors and older people.

Also read: Israel’s chipmaker Tower Semiconductor proposes to set up $8 billion plant in India: report

Citing sources, the proposed six-week-long pause in fighting would permit the delivery of aid in Gaza every day. Meanwhile, negotiators face an unofficial deadline with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around March 10.

Also read: South Africa urges World Court to pressure Israel to halt Rafah offensive

However, Hamas claimed that it was not involved in the latest proposal developed by the United States, Egypt and Qatar but informed that the proposal largely matches its earlier demand for the first phase of a truce.

(With inputs from AP)

 

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Published: 26 Feb 2024, 06:39 AM IST
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