Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed on Saturday night by the U.S. television program, ABC News' “This Week,” where he responded to international criticism regarding future IDF operations in Rafah.
"Whoever tells us not to operate in Rafah is actually calling on us to lose the war and leave Hamas there."
He also clarified that Israel is planning to move the more than one million evacuees currently sheltering in Rafah.
“Victory is within reach. We're going to do it. We're going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions and Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we're going to do it,” Netanyahu said in the interview.
NEW: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tells @jonkarl that Israel is “working out a detailed plan” to evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah before a planned ground invasion.— ABC News (@ABC) February 11, 2024
Interview airs SUNDAY on @ThisWeekABC. https://t.co/4Uox8AuugK pic.twitter.com/akx1jXrY7W
Netanyahu did not provide details or a date for the start of the IDF's ground maneuver in Rafah during the ABC news interview.
Netanyahu said he “agrees with the Americans” that the operation must be carried out cautiously.
“We are going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population, so that they can leave.”
When asked where Gaza residents in Rafah are supposed to go, he said: “We are working out a detailed plan to do so.”
“We're not cavalier about this," Netanyahu stated. “This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm's way. It's part of Hamas' effort to keep them in harm's way."
Meanwhile, international criticism of an IDF operation in Rafah continues. On Wednesday night, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he was "deeply concerned about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Rafah."
Dutch Foreign Minister Haneke Bruins Slott wrote on her 𝕏 account: "The situation there is very worrying. It is hard to see how a large-scale military operation in such a densely populated area could not lead to many civilian casualties and a greater humanitarian disaster. It's unjustified.”
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Egyptian government has also warned Israel that the Palestinian refugee issue could lead to a suspension of the peace deal between the two countries.
Cairo is reportedly deeply concerned about a massive influx of Palestinians into Egypt that could destabilize the Sinai and possibly introduce terror elements into their country.
Egypt has long battled against the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization from which Hamas emerged, spanning several decades.
Israeli media reported that Egypt has been reinforcing its border security levels in recent days.
Meanwhile, reports in Israeli media suggest that the IDF has already finalized its plans for the Rafah operation and is waiting for approval by the political leadership to begin. Anonymous government sources told N12 news that the entire operation is intended to pressure Hamas to compromise regarding negotiations for a hostage release deal.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.