Middle East

Netanyahu says Rafah evacuation plan will be approved soon

From CNN's From Amir Tal

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that his government will soon approve a plan for the evacuation of civilians from Gaza’s southern city of Rafah – and that a planned military offensive into the area would proceed “to complete the victory over Hamas.”

In a message to the citizens of Israel, Netanyahu said he wanted to provide an update on his latest conversation with US President Joe Biden.

“At the very beginning, we agreed that Hamas should be eliminated. But during the war, it’s no secret, we had differences of opinion about the best way to achieve this goal.”
“There have been times when we have agreed with our friends, and there have been times when we have not agreed with them,” he said.

Netanyahu said he told Biden that “it is impossible to complete the victory without the IDF entering Rafah, and this in order to eliminate the rest of the Hamas battalions.”

“Soon we will also approve the plan to evacuate the civilian population from the battle zones,” Netanyahu said.

But he repeated that Biden asked “to present us with the proposals from his side in the humanitarian field and on other issues.”

An Israeli delegation is due to travel to Washington in the next week for discussions on those proposals, according to US and Israeli officials.

Netanyahu said Israel “always did what was essential for our safety, and we will do so this time as well.”

But he suggested an operation into Rafah was not imminent.

“While we are preparing to enter Rafah, which will take some time, we continue to operate with all our might,” Netanyahu said, referencing ongoing ground operations in Khan Younis, “in the central camps, in the elimination and capture of senior Hamas officials as we did now in Shifa (hospital), in the elimination of many hundreds of terrorists.”

There are an estimated 1.4 million people in Rafah, many of whom have been displaced several times from other parts of Gaza.

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