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Netanyahu Meets Blinken, Says Rafah Offensive Will Happen

Rafah, Netanyahu, Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the Israeli war cabinet in Tel Aviv.

On the last leg of his sixth visit to West Asia since the Israel-Hamas war began, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli War Cabinet in Tel Aviv on Friday. Blinken reaffirmed US commitment to Israel’s security and the defeat of Hamas, including in Rafah. He discussed efforts to reach an agreement for a ceasefire of at least six weeks that would secure the release of hostages and enable a surge in humanitarian assistance, the state department said.

Worried about the crisis in Gaza, the United States wants increased humanitarian assistance, through both land and sea routes. More aid is getting in but it’s not enough. I emphasized that Israel must make it a priority, Blinken said. He also briefed the Israeli war cabinet about his discussions in Jeddah and Cairo.

Blinken also met Israeli President Isaac Herzog, reaffirmed U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and the lasting defeat of Hamas but also emphasised the need for Israel to take all possible measures to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

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Netanyahu wants to launch a ground offensive in Rafah where the Israel defence forces say the remaining battalions of Hamas are hiding and need to be destroyed for a ‘total victory’. Fearing heavy civilian casualties, the US is opposed to a major military operation in Rafah, saying there are alternative means to defeat Hamas. But Netanyahu remains firm. He told Blinken that Israel was working towards evacuating civilians from the war zones and taking care of the humanitarian needs.

“I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there. And I told him (Blinken) that I hope we will do it with the support of the USA but if we have to, we will do it alone,” said Netanyahu.

Source: AP