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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

Israel PM says ‘intense’ fighting with Hamas in Rafah ‘about to end’

Netanyahu cites he would not agree to any deal that stipulates an end to the war in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Israeli military’s heavy fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over.

“The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” he said in an interview with Israel’s pro-Netanyahu Channel 14.

“It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah,” he said.

“After the end of the intense phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north, and we will do that. Primarily for defensive purposes but also to bring the (displaced) residents back home,” Netanyahu said in his first interview with an Israeli network since the start of the war with Hamas on October 7.

Netanyahu said he would not agree to any deal that stipulates an end to the war in Gaza, indicating that he was open to a “partial” deal that would facilitate the return of some hostages still held in Gaza, if not all.

“The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza,” he said.

United States officials have raised doubts over Israel’s goal of completely eliminating Hamas, and on Wednesday Israel’s top army spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said: “To say that we are going to make Hamas disappear is to throw sand in people’s eyes.”

He said Hamas is an ideology and “we cannot eliminate an ideology.”

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