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‘Rafah operation will put Israel weeks away from total victory’: PM

Published:

Israel prime minister

Benjamin Netanyahu

said Sunday that the

military operation

into Gaza’s Rafah would put Israel within weeks of “total victory” over

Hamas

.
In an interview with CBS News, Netanyahu said he was meeting with officials later on Sunday to review a dual military plan that involved evacuating civilians from Gaza and destroying the last few Hamas battalions.

Negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza resumed on Sunday in Doha between experts from Egypt, Qatar, the United States, and Israel, as well as Hamas representatives, according to state-linked Egyptian media.
The talks are a continuation of discussions held in Paris. In Paris, an Israeli delegation led by Mossad chief David Barnea discussed possibilities of a deal to secure a fresh ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israel’s war cabinet agreed to send a delegation to Qatar to continue the negotiations.

“If we have a (ceasefire) deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen,” Netanyahu told CBS.
“If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway. It has to be done because total victory is our goal and total victory is within reach — not months away, weeks away, once we begin the operation,” Netanyahu further observed.
Qatar, Egypt, and the United States have been spearheading efforts to secure a new deal, following the success of a previous week-long truce in November. International pressure for a ceasefire has intensified as the death toll from Israel’s military offensive in Gaza nears 30,000, with the majority being women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing to expand its offensive to the southernmost city of Rafah, which is located on the border between Gaza and Egypt. There, over half of the 2.3 million people living in the territory have taken refuge in filthy tent camps, crammed flats, and overflowing shelters. Aid groups have issued dire warnings, and the United States and other Israel’s allies have insisted that it must not harm civilians.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which rules Gaza, in response to their unprecedented attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,160 people, mostly civilians.

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