Netanyahu rejects pressure to stop ground offensive in Rafah as strikes kill over 40 Palestinians

Demonstrators protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for new elections in the latest weekly protest against his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
Demonstrators protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for new elections in the latest weekly protest against his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Copyright Leo Correa/AP
Copyright Leo Correa/AP
By Euronews with AP
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The Israeli Prime Minister says preventing Israel from acting in Rafah is "basically telling us - lose the war".

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said he would not bow to international pressure to come to a settlement ahead of his country's military expansion into Rafah.

"Those who want to prevent us from acting in Rafah are basically telling us - lose the war," Netanyahu said.

The statement was issued after several high-level international diplomats met in Munich on Saturday to discuss the possibility of a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict.

Talks on a potential cease-fire deal in Gaza “have not been progressing as expected” in the past few days after good progress in recent weeks, key mediator Qatar said during the Munich Security Conference.

Netanyahu's press office published footage of the Prime Minister discounting this, saying he would "not submit to international dictates in the future settlement with the Palestinians".

"I made it clear to the cabinet and I repeat and emphasise to the world tonight as well - the agreement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions," he said.

Israel’s defence minister on Friday said Israel is “thoroughly planning” a military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

US President Joe Biden urged Israel not to carry out the operation without a “credible” plan to protect civilians and to instead focus on a cease-fire.

An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s population, have crammed into Rafah, most of them displaced by fighting elsewhere in the territory. 

Protests in Tel Aviv

Netanyahu is also coming under increasing pressure from inside the country.

Thousands of protesters at a weekly march in Tel Aviv on Saturday demanded the resignation of the current Israeli government.

One of the protesters, Elad Nisim said that the country "must replace the government right now" via either an immediate election or a vote of no confidence in the Knesset.

Tensions were running higher than usual between the protesters and riot police but no detentions were made.

Israeli raids in central Gaza

More than 40 people were reported to be killed after a series of airstrikes in the Deir Al-Balah neighbourhood in the central Gaza Strip. 

Palestinian sources say that bombs fell in near the vicinity of a hospital. 

The IDF said it struck a series of Hamas "operational command and control centres" in central Gaza.

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