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Gantz: Israel preparing for Rafah operation, will happen during Ramadan if no hostage deal

War Cabinet minister says there are some signs of movement on hostage deal

Benny Gantz during a press conference (Photo: Screenshot)

War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel is preparing for an operation in the southern town of Rafah in Gaza after the civilians are evacuated from the area. His statement was made during a press briefing on Wednesday evening.

Gantz, the head of the National Unity party, also claimed that unilateral international recognition of a Palestinian state, without bilateral agreements, is “a tailwind for terrorism.”

“It would be a mistake to give such a tailwind to terrorism,” Gantz said. “Political arrangements must take place directly, otherwise they will not be sustainable. In any future situation, Israel will maintain its supremacy and security capability throughout the Gaza Strip.”

He also clarified that Israel intends to exercise security but not civilian control over the Gaza Strip.

When asked about negotiations surrounding the hostage release deal, which have stalled in recent days, Gantz said the government was doing all it could.

“We will do everything so that the abductees will be returned. This is the top priority goal,” he stated.

"There are attempts these days to advance a new outline, and initial signs point to the possibility of moving forward,” Gantz continued. “We will not stop looking for the way, and we will not miss any opportunity to bring the girls and boys home."

The Saudi TV network Al-Arabiya reported that a Hamas delegation had begun talks with senior Egyptian officials regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq said that an Israeli delegation was scheduled to arrive in Cairo in the coming days to renew discussions for a hostage deal.

However, Israeli sources said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not send a delegation unless there was a significant breakthrough.

A government source told Ynet News: "If Hamas continues to harden its positions and we do not see a significant change in its positions, we will not go to Paris. There is no travel and no summit with Israel's participation without Hamas moving. If we get a bad answer, we won't go.”

In recent days, Gantz has repeatedly stated that if there is no deal, the IDF will enter Rafah – even during Ramadan. He repeated this statement in the press briefing.

"In the fighting arena, we are facing an operation in Rafah, which will begin after the evacuation of the population from the area. The importance of cleansing Rafah lies in its ability to harm the Hamas forces operating there and the need to demilitarize the Gaza Strip. I repeat, if there is no plan for hostages, we will also act during Ramadan."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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