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Netanyahu promises to withdraw civilians from Rafah before attacking Hamas

Netanyahu promises to withdraw civilians from Rafah before attacking Hamas Benjamin Netanyahu (photo: Getty Images)

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Israeli military forces are preparing to evacuate more than a million Palestinian civilians from the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, provide them with necessary aid, and then launch an attack on Hamas combat battalions remaining there, according to Bloomberg.

"It’s the right thing to do operationally and internationally. It takes time, but it will be done," Netanyahu said at a press conference on Sunday evening.

Responding to accusations in Israel that he is not focused enough on freeing hostages, the prime minister said, "Whoever says that is wrong and misleading you."

Currently, Israeli forces dominate the northern part of Gaza. One of Hamas' demands is for civilians and fighters to be allowed to return to their homes in the north. Netanyahu said this cannot be accepted due to significant security implications, which he declined to specify.

He announced that the US has ideas for providing assistance to the peaceful residents of Rafah and limiting losses, and he is willing to listen to them.

Offensive on Rafah

The Israeli army plans to begin a ground invasion into the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. This is the last populated area under the control of the Palestinian Hamas movement.

During a recent conversation with the Chief of Staff of the IDF, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, Charles Q. Brown, stated that the US will not tolerate mass casualties among civilians in Rafah, considering the number of civilian casualties in the northern and central parts of the Gaza Strip.

Brown summarized Washington's proposal, which includes protecting the Gaza-Egypt border using technological advancements to prevent weapon smuggling through the Philadelphi Corridor, isolating the city of Rafah and conducting targeted raids, as well as creating a joint command center to coordinate targeted operations.