Netanyahu Says Israel Will Attack Rafah In Gaza “With Or Without” A Hostage Agreement

( — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed that Israel would enter Rafah and eliminate the remaining Hamas battalions, whether or not a deal is struck to return the hostages.

In a statement from the prime minister’s office just hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel for further ceasefire talks, Netanyahu said expecting Israel to stop fighting before it achieved its goals was “out of the question.”

The United States has pressed Israel not to enter the southern Gaza city without first providing a workable plan to evacuate the roughly 1.5 million Palestinians who have been sheltering there since the war began.

The secretary of state, who held talks in Jordan and Saudi Arabia before flying to Israel, told reporters on Tuesday that the focus of the talks was on reaching a deal that would release the hostages while improving the current humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Blinken called on Hamas to accept the most recent offer from Israel, which he described as a “strong proposal.”

Hardline members of Netanyahu’s Cabinet have been pressuring the prime minister to move forward with the Rafah operation rather than proceed with a ceasefire agreement.

Following a meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Netanyahu assured him that Israel would not stop the war or accept a “reckless deal” and vowed that Israeli forces would enter Rafah.

The current ceasefire talks, brokered by the United States, Egypt, and Qatar, would halt fighting in Gaza for six weeks in exchange for the return of the hostages. Israel would also release hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

After meeting with Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday, Secretary of State Blinken told reporters that the Biden administration was “determined to achieve a ceasefire” that would bring the hostages home immediately. He suggested that the obstacle to reaching a deal was Hamas and called on the terrorist group to accept the offer without delay or excuses.

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