Netanyahu set on Rafah assault despite Biden warning against it

Israeli soldiers move on top of a tank near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, March 20, 2024.
Israeli soldiers move on top of a tank near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Copyright Leo Correa/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Leo Correa/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Despite escalating tensions between Israel and the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains resolute in his planned ground offensive in Rafah.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that it was "impossible to complete the victory without the IDF entering Rafah."

President Joe Biden has repeatedly cautioned Israel against initiating a large-scale ground operation in the southern city of Rafah without credible plans to safeguard innocent Palestinians seeking refuge there.

However, in a video message released by the Israeli Government Press Office on Wednesday, Netanyahu acknowledged US support, stating, "there were times we agreed with our friends, and there were times we did not agree with them." He added, "In the end, we always did what was essential for our safety, and we will do so this time as well."

Netanyahu also mentioned that preparations for a ground invasion in Rafah would "take some time," while emphasising that operations around Gaza would persist in "eliminating and capturing senior Hamas officials."

Despite, Majed al-Ansari, spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign Ministry, emphasising that any Israeli ground operation in Rafah would hinder progress in negotiations, during a news conference on Tuesday.

Expressing concern over attacking Rafah, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, highlighted the risk posed by the presence of approximately 1.4 million people from across Gaza in the area. UN officials cautioned about a potential massive death toll and the collapse of humanitarian aid efforts if troops were to move into Rafah.

In Central Gaza, According to Palestinian news outlet Wafa, mourners gathered for the funeral of several individuals killed in Israeli attacks. The released footage showed mourners conducting funeral prayers around bodies draped in fabric on the floor in Deir al-Balah. Wafa reported that a number of Palestinians had been killed by Israeli bombings across various areas in the central Gaza Strip.

alestinians look at a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip
alestinians look at a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza StripMarkus SchreiberAP

Furthermore, Wafa released video footage showing residents of Deir al-Balah inspecting damage to buildings following Israeli strikes, with the news agency indicating that the attacks had originated from both air and sea. 

According to Gaza's Health Ministry, at least 31,819 Palestinians have lost their lives. The ministry's count does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but reports that women and children comprise two-thirds of the deceased. A United Nations food agency cautioned that "famine is imminent" in northern Gaza.

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