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13 Mar, 2024 04:42

Netanyahu vows to ‘finish the job’ in Gaza

The Israeli PM has promised an assault on the Palestinian city of Rafah, despite international calls for a ceasefire to spare civilian lives
Netanyahu vows to ‘finish the job’ in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reaffirmed his goal of eliminating the Palestinian Hamas movement, insisting that no amount of international pressure and criticism over civilian casualties will stop Israel. The country's “very survival is at stake” and a “total victory” is within reach, he claimed.

Netanyahu vowed to bring the offensive into Rafah, a major city near Gaza’s border with Egypt and the last refuge of some 1.5 million people, in a video address to the pro-Israel AIPAC organization in Washington on Tuesday.

The city and its surroundings became crowded with refugees after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) instructed Palestinians to flee the northern part of the enclave. The Israeli prime minister repeatedly rejected international calls for a ceasefire, arguing that the IDF must clear out the remaining Hamas strongholds.

“To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Netanyahu insisted. “If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm and reconquer Gaza and then we’re back to square one. And that’s an intolerable threat that we cannot accept.”

“We will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way,” he added.

Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages back to Gaza. Netanyahu responded by declaring war on the Palestinian militant group and imposing a near-total siege on the enclave. In just over five months of fighting, Israeli forces have killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Netanyahu, however, claimed that since the beginning of the war, the IDF has “taken measures to minimize civilian casualties that no other army has taken in history.”

“We will destroy Hamas, free our hostages and ensure that Gaza doesn’t ever pose a threat to Israel again,” he added.

Netanyahu’s latest comments came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egypt, Qatar, and the US tried to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas before Monday, and UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a ceasefire during Ramadan.