Gaza: Netanyahu says serious fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘will end’: News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the “intense” fighting in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, with the Israeli army conducting a ground offensive “is nearing its end”.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived in the United States amid armed clashes between the two allies on Sunday as Israeli bombers again targeted the Palestinian territory, which has been devastated by more than eight months of war.

“The intensive phase of the intensive war against Hamas is going to end (…) This does not mean that the war is going to end, but that the intensive phase of the war is going to end in Rafah,” said Mr. Netanyahu said. Interview with Israeli Channel 14.

“After the end of the intensive phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north and we will do so (…)”, the prime minister added, promising that “the objective is to rescue the hostages”. The Hamas regime in Gaza must be uprooted.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting in Israel, where tens of thousands of people rallied Saturday evening to condemn the war and call for the return of the hostages still in Gaza.

The war was sparked by a bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in southern Israel on October 7, during which dozens of people were abducted and taken to the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched a major offensive against the besieged Palestinian territory.

According to witnesses, Sunday’s shells targeted the east, west and center of Rafah in southern Gaza, where the Israeli army has been conducting a ground offensive since May 7. Airstrikes hit Gaza City (north) and tanks bombed the Nousirad camp (center).

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According to the military, warplanes carried out raids on Saturday against “dozens of terrorist targets, including military structures and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip”.

– “Important” speech in Washington –

According to an AFP tally based on official data, Hamas attacks on October 7 killed 1,194 people, mostly civilians. 251 people were kidnapped that day. In total, 116 people are still being held in Gaza, 41 of whom have died, according to the military.

Israeli military operations in Gaza have so far killed 37,598 people, mostly civilians, according to data from the local Hamas-led government’s health ministry.

Mr. With relations between Netanyahu and the White House experiencing a new strain, Yoav Gallant left for Washington to “discuss developments in Gaza and Lebanon.”

Israel’s northern front, along with Lebanon, has been the scene of escalating firefights between the Israeli army and Hamas ally Hezbollah, and bellicose rhetoric between the two sides has raised fears of a full-scale war.

On Sunday, the Iran-backed Shiite movement said an Israeli offensive in eastern Lebanon targeted two Israeli military bases using explosive drones and seriously wounded a soldier in response to the death of the leader of an allied Islamist group.

Five days after revealing images of Haifa taken by a drone over Israel’s major northern port, the movement also released a new video showing it as sites in Israel, without identifying them.

Referring to relations with Washington, Mr. Gallant promised in a press release that “connections with America are more important than ever.” “Our talks with US officials are (continuing) critical to the war,” he said.

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There is also a row over US arms deliveries after Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the delay in transferring them to Israel.

But on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu announced that this “dispute” with Washington would be “resolved in the future” during a meeting of his government. “(…) In light of what I have heard in recent days, I hope this issue will be resolved soon.”

– “Drive out this government” –

Mr Netanyahu, who says Israel is engaged in a “battle for its existence”, is under pressure at home.

In Tel Aviv on Saturday, more than 150,000 people chanted slogans against the Netanyahu government, demanding early elections and the return of hostages, according to organizers, the largest crowd since the war began.

“The only way to achieve change here is to get rid of this government, get rid of the extremists,” said 36-year-old protester Maya Fischer. “It is time to end the war, recover hostages and save lives on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.”

Negotiations for a ceasefire have stalled, and Mr Trump has vowed to fight alongside the US and EU until Hamas, which he considers a terrorist group, is destroyed. Netanyahu says.

Israel’s offensive has caused a humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian territories, home to about 2.4 million people, with the UN warning of famine.

According to the World Health Organization, more than a million people continue to move in the Gaza Strip in hopes of finding a safe place.

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