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Netanyahu vows to invade Rafah regardless of potential cease-fire with Hamas: ‘It will happen’

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Israel will carry out an invasion of the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, regardless of whether or not it reaches a hostage exchange agreement with Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Netanyahu made the statement during a Sunday morning appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” with host Margaret Brennan. He stated that Israel was still engaged in hostage negotiations, but added that the Jewish state was committed to rooting out Hamas with as little harm to civilians as possible.

“If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” Netanyahu said of the Rafah operation.

He went on to say that any Israeli operation in Rafah would signal that Israel is just “weeks away” from total victory in the war against Hamas.

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The new timing is a far cry from statements Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have made in recent weeks. Netanyahu had previously predicted that the war would last “many more months.”

BIDEN TO GO TO UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO FORCE TEMPORARY CEASE-FIRE ON ISRAEL, HALT RAFAH OFFENSIVE

The U.S. has insisted that Israel implement a plan to protect civilians in the event of a Rafah invasion. Brennan said Netanyahu told her that he was meeting “with the General Staff to discuss the ‘dual plan’ of how to evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah & how to lay siege to Hamas battalions there,” she said.

The Israeli government also released its post-war plan for Gaza on Friday, a deal that was immediately rejected by Palestinian officials.

Under the plan, Israel would seek open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu’s government has flatly rejected calls for a two-state solution, which President Biden’s administration continues to push for.

President Joe Biden

The Israeli Parliament backed Netanyahu’s rejection of any “unilateral” recognition of a Palestinian state last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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