Netanyahu says "no amount of international pressure" will stop Rafah invasion

Rafah, Gaza - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli troops would pursue a planned ground offensive in southern Gaza's Rafah that has spurred fears of mass civilian casualties.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated plans to invade Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where millions of Palestinians have sought refuge from a brutal Israeli assault.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated plans to invade Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where millions of Palestinians have sought refuge from a brutal Israeli assault.  © REUTERS

"No amount of international pressure will stop us from realizing all the goals of the war: eliminating Hamas, releasing all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel," Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting in a video released by his office.

"To do this, we will also operate in Rafah."

His comments came as talks were expected to resume in Doha towards a temporary truce in Gaza, where Israel has pursued a brutal assault for more than five months.

Joke of the Night for May 26, 2024: The best jokes to laugh the day away
Joke of the Day Joke of the Night for May 26, 2024: The best jokes to laugh the day away

Israeli cabinet members were set to discuss the "mandate" of the negotiations team later on Sunday, Netanyahu's office has said.

The majority of Gaza's 2.4 million people have sought refuge from relentless Israeli bombardment in the southern city, near the coastal territory's border with Egypt.

President Joe Biden, who has backed Israel during the war, has said an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a "red line" without credible civilian protection plans in place.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Washington wanted a "clear and implementable plan" for Rafah to ensure civilians are "out of harm's way."

The head of the UN's World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Friday appealed to Israel "in the name of humanity" not to launch an assault on Rafah.

Netanyahu's office said on Friday he had approved the military's plan for an operation in Rafah, though no timeline has been given.

Netanyahu criticizes those "trying to stop the war now"

A Palestinian girl sits holding a toddler on a sand dune overlooking a camp for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian girl sits holding a toddler on a sand dune overlooking a camp for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.  © MOHAMMED ABED / AFP

Rafah is the last major population center in Gaza yet to be subjected to a ground assault in Israel's five-month campaign, which the Gaza health ministry says has killed at least 31,645 people, mostly women and children.

Netanyahu on Sunday also criticized "those in the international community who are trying to stop the war now" by "making false accusations" against Israel and its military.

Israel has faced consistent criticism for civilian casualties in Gaza as well as blocking aid and fueling fears of famine.

Zelensky urges allies to coerce Russia into peace using "all means" necessary
Ukraine conflict Zelensky urges allies to coerce Russia into peace using "all means" necessary

On Thursday, US Senate leader Chuck Schumer called for Israel to hold new elections, sparking angry pushback from Netanyahu's Likud party, which said Israel "is not a banana republic."

Netanyahu said on Sunday that new elections would "stop the war, and paralyze the country for at least six months."

"If we stop the war now, before all of its goals are achieved, it means that Israel has lost the war, and we will not allow that."

Cover photo: Collage: MOHAMMED ABED / AFP & REUTERS

More on Israel-Gaza War: