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Netanyahu insists on necessity of Rafah op, says we must 'protect the life of our nation'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with CNBC (Photo: Screenshot)

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's operation in Rafah aimed to eliminate the four remaining Hamas battalions would take “weeks, not months or years.”

In the interview, Netanyahu acknowledged the disagreements between the U.S. and Israeli governments regarding the Rafah offensive and reiterated Israel's commitment to proceed with the operation despite opposition from the White House. 

Netanyahu said, "Yes, we do have a disagreement on Gaza. Rather, on Rafah. But we have to do what we have to do." 

He emphasized that the primary objective is to ensure long-term security for Israel and rid Gaza of Hamas.

He went on to say, "You just have to do what is required to ensure your survival and your future. We cannot continue into the future by having Hamas retake Gaza."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently reiterated the Biden Administration's position against a large-scale military operation in Rafah. 

Netanyahu said, “I hope we can see eye to eye with the United States, we’re talking to them, but ultimately we do what we have to do to protect the life of our nation."

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden warned that he would stop American weapons shipments to Israel if a major ground invasion of Rafah went forward, resulting in pushback from U.S. Republicans and Democrats.

While re-emphasizing U.S. support for Israel's defensive system, including the Iron Dome, Biden stressed the importance of minimizing civilian casualties.

On Friday, White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the U.S. is watching the Rafah operation in the southern Gaza city closely and wants the Rafah border crossing reopened immediately.

On Tuesday, Israeli military spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari, reported that more than 100 terrorists have been eliminated in Rafah since Israeli forces entered the southern city last week. 

Hagari also said that IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi had visited Rafah earlier in the day when he received news that evidence of hostages had been found there.

In February, Netanyahu spoke about his vision for a post-war Gaza that is focused on identifying unaffiliated Gazan officials who do not have ties to “countries or entities that support terrorism.”

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

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