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Gaza war: Netanyahu says date is set for Rafah invasion

Palestinians walk through the destruction in the wake of an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. 08/04/2024   -  
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Fatima Shbair/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday (April. 8) said that a date is set for a ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

In a video statement Monday, Netanyahu said the Rafah operation is essential for "a complete victory over Hamas".

The prospective invasion has alarmed the international community, including the United States, who say the roughly 1.4 million civilians seeking shelter there will be in danger.

US opposition

The US president Biden's administration has said that they have not seen Israel's plan but remains opposed. 

 "We have made clear to them that we think that there is a better way to achieve what is a legitimate goal, which is to, degrade and dismantle and defeat the Hamas battalions that still remain in Rafah," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in Washington. 

Miller also announced that humanitarian aid into Gaza increased over the weekend. 

"Yesterday, 304 aid trucks entered Gaza, the highest number of trucks in any single day since the conflict began," Miller said. "That number represents a significant improvement, but it is important not just that we see the daily number continue to grow, but that it be sustained over time."

No end in sight

Netanyahu's renewed pledge to invade came as Israeli negotiators were in Cairo discussing international efforts to broker a cease-fire deal with Hamas.

“Today, I received a detailed report on the talks in Cairo, we are working all the time to achieve our goals, primarily the release of all our hostages and achieving a complete victory over Hamas," Netanyahu said.

"This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen - there is a date.”

Meanwhile on Monday, Palestinians returned to the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis to salvage what they could from the rubble, a day after the Israeli military announced its withdrawal from the area. 

The second-largest city in the strip has been left unrecognisable by the Israeli ground offensive there following the Hamas-led attack on October 7. 

The war, now in its seventh month, has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to local health authorities, displaced most of the territory’s 2.3 million people and left vast swaths of the beleaguered Gaza Strip uninhabitable.

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