IDF inching closer to Rafah op, Gallant hints during Gaza visit
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during a visit to Gaza City, March 13, 2024. (Photo: Aeriel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

“Even those who think that we are delaying will soon see that we will reach everyone,” the defense minister told troops in Gaza City.

JNS Staff Report
March 13, 2024

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, seemed to indicate that the Israel Defense Forces operation against Hamas battalions in the southernmost city of Rafah will happen “soon.”

“Even those who think that we are delaying will soon see that we will reach everyone,” he told IDF troops serving in the western part of Gaza City, according to a readout provided by the Defense Ministry.

Gallant added that “extraordinary work is being done here above and below ground, the forces reach everywhere and the conclusion is that there is no safe place in Gaza for terrorists.

“We will bring to justice anyone who was involved in Oct. 7—we will either eliminate them or bring them to trial in Israel. There is no safe place, not here, not outside of Gaza, not across the Middle East,” he said.

Gallant spoke after the military announced that a Hamas terrorist responsible for many rocket attacks on the Jewish state, including on Oct. 7, was killed in an airstrike in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that telling Israel to refrain from operating in Rafah is tantamount to demanding that it lose the war against the terrorists.

Many of the 134 hostages still in the hands of Hamas in Gaza after 159 days are believed to be held in the Hamas stronghold on the Egyptian border. Two captives were rescued from the city by Israeli special forces in a daring military operation last month.

U.S. President Joe Biden is considering conditioning military aid to Israel if Jerusalem moves forward with its conquest of Rafah, Politico reported on Monday, citing officials in Washington.

In an interview with MSNBC over the weekend, Biden declared that invading Rafah is a “red line,” before quickly clarifying that “I’m never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons.”

He then suggested that more civilian casualties would be a red line, citing the Hamas figures of 30,000 Palestinians allegedly killed in the war. According to Israel, at least 13,000 terrorists are among the dead.

Responding to Biden on Sunday, Netanyahu laid out his own red line: “You know what the red line is? That Oct. 7 doesn’t happen again.”

Around three-quarters of Jewish Israelis and a majority of Israelis overall support expanding the military operations against Hamas to Rafah, according to polling conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Last month, Israel put forward an evacuation plan for civilians in Rafah. The proposal envisions 15 campsites of around 25,000 tents each (375,000 tents in total) where displaced Gazans will be relocated.

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