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Israel ‘will enter Rafah and go back to Khan Yunis’: Benny Gantz

April 11, 2024 at 12:10 pm

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz arrives in Washington DC on 5 March, 2024 [DREW ANGERER/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that Hamas has been defeated militarily and the army will enter Rafah and go back to Khan Yunis, an Israeli media outlet reported.

“From a military point of view – Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or in hiding and its capabilities (are) crippled,” Gantz said following a meeting of his National Unity party in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, said The Times of Israel.

“We will enter Rafah. We will return to Khan Yunis. And we will operate in Gaza. Wherever there are terrorist targets,” he added.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported that “heated disagreements and discussions” took place between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers on one side and Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi on the other side regarding the delay of the military operation in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

The channel noted that “a heated discussion erupted at the expanded security Cabinet meeting last night (Tuesday) following the Israeli army’s withdrawal from Khan Yunis and the delay of the operation in Rafah.”

The Cabinet met late Tuesday in the context of discussions about a hostage swap deal and the Israeli army’s withdrawal from Khan Yunis, said the channel.

During the meeting, Justice Minister Yariv Levin asked: “How can the forces withdraw from Khan Yunis before Eid al-Fitr?”

READ: Ground invasion of Rafah imminent says Netanyahu, caving in to ultra-right pressure

Halevi responded: “We have completed the maneuver there, and we have exhausted our objectives for now, and we want to rejuvenate the forces and prepare for Rafah.”

According to Channel 12, Finance Minister Israel Katz intervened in the discussion, saying: “Why are we waiting? We should already be there (in Rafah).”

Netanyahu, who remains dependent on far-right allies to keep his government in power, did not remain silent and addressed Halevi, saying: “Why didn’t you initially propose entering the south and north?” according to the channel.

Halevi responded, saying “regarding Rafah, I recommend not discussing the timing of entry. Once the enemy understands exactly when and how it will happen, it will translate into casualties (for Israeli soldiers), more explosive devices and booby-trapped houses.”

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip since a 7 October cross-border attack by the Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas, which killed less than 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 33,500 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 76,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war, now on day 186, has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

WATCH: Khan Yunis left in ruins after Israeli forces’ withdrawal