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Israel 'Will Enter Rafah And Go Back To Khan Younis': Minister

11.04.2024 03:42

‘We will operate in Gaza. Wherever there are terrorist targets,’ says Benny Gantz.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that Hamas has been defeated militarily and the army will enter Rafah and go back to Khan Younis, an Israeli media outlet reported

"From a military point of view – Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or in hiding and its capabilities (are) crippled," Gantz said following a meeting of his National Unity party in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, said The Times of Israel.

"We will enter Rafah. We will return to Khan Younis. And we will operate in Gaza. Wherever there are terrorist targets," he added.

Israel's Channel 12 reported that "heated disagreements and discussions" took place between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers on one side and Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi on the other side regarding the delay of the military operation in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

The channel noted that "a heated discussion erupted at the expanded security Cabinet meeting last night (Tuesday) following the Israeli army's withdrawal from Khan Younis and the delay of the operation in Rafah."

The Cabinet met late Tuesday in the context of discussions about a hostage swap deal and the Israeli army's withdrawal from Khan Younis, said the channel.

During the meeting, Justice Minister Yariv Levin asked: "How can the forces withdraw from Khan Younis before Eid al-Fitr?"

Halevi responded: "We have completed the maneuver there, and we have exhausted our objectives for now, and we want to rejuvenate the forces and prepare for Rafah."

According to Channel 12, Finance Minister Israel Katz intervened in the discussion, saying: "Why are we waiting? We should already be there (in Rafah)."

Netanyahu, who remains dependent on far-right allies to keep his government in power, did not remain silent and addressed Halevi, saying: "Why didn't you initially propose entering the south and north?" according to the channel.

Halevi responded, saying "regarding Rafah, I recommend not discussing the timing of entry. Once the enemy understands exactly when and how it will happen, it will translate into casualties (for Israeli soldiers), more explosive devices and booby-trapped houses."

Israel has waged a military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas which killed around 1,200 people.

Around 33,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began.​​​​​​​

It has also imposed a crippling blockade on the seaside enclave, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while much of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has urged it to do more to prevent famine

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala -

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