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Israel: far-right minister says Netanyahu vowed to invade Rafah

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 'promised that Israel is going into Rafah and he promised that we are not ending this war,' Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir said in a statement. 'I think the prime minister understands very well the implications if these things don't take place,' he continued following a meeting between him and Netanyahu demanding that no ceasefire deal is accepted.

May 1, 2024 at 11:32 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have promised to invade the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and not end the ongoing war on the besieged Gaza Strip, Anadolu has reported. The claim was made by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Tuesday.

“I warned the prime minister [of the consequences] if, God forbid, Israel does not enter Rafah, if, God forbid, we end the war, if, God forbid, there will be a reckless deal,” Ben-Gvir said on video. “The prime minister heard my words, promised that Israel would go into Rafah, promised that the war would not end, and promised that there would be no reckless deal. I welcome these things. I think the prime minister understands very well what it will mean if these things do not take place.”

According to Haaretz yesterday, a majority of the Israeli war cabinet “now prefer to reach a deal at the expense of invading Rafah,” in contrast to Netanyahu, who the newspaper said “still has reservations about reaching an agreement under the current circumstances.”

READ: 182 UNRWA employees killed in Gaza

Ben Gvir had previously threatened to leave the government if the war on Gaza was ended or what he called a “reckless deal” was reached regarding the exchange of Israeli prisoners for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, and the establishment of a prolonged ceasefire.

When Hamas carried out a cross-border incursion on 7 October, around 1,200 Israelis were killed, many of them by Israel Defence Forces tanks and helicopters. Just over 250 hostages were taken back to Gaza. Israel’s subsequent military offensive has to-date killed 35,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women, and wounded 70,000 more. An estimated 8,000 Palestinians are missing, presumed dead, under the rubble of their homes destroyed by Israel.

More than six months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lie in ruins, pushing 85 per cent of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza. South Africa, which took the apartheid state to the ICJ, has since claimed that Israel is ignoring the court’s ruling. Israel denies all charges against it.

READ: Israel forces detaining record numbers of Palestinian children without charge