Middle East

Date for Rafah ground offensive is set, Netanyahu says

From CNN staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that a date for a ground offensive into Rafah has been set, according to a video posted on his official Telegram account.

Netanyahu didn’t say what the date was.

He also said that “entry into Rafah” was necessary for a “complete victory over Hamas.”

Rafah, in the southernmost part of the besieged enclave, is where about 1.5 million Palestinians are estimated to be sheltering after fleeing fighting in the north.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said that if Netanyahu abandoned plans for a ground offensive in Rafah, he may lose the support of the coalition that has kept him in power.

The State Department later said Israel had not briefed the US on the date for the announced invasion of Rafah.

Matthew Miller, State Department spokesperson, reiterated that the US believes a ground offensive “would have an enormously harmful effect on … civilians, and that it would ultimately hurt Israel’s security.”

“We have not yet seen them present a credible plan for dealing with the 1.4 million civilians who are in Rafah, some of whom have moved more than once, some of whom have moved more than twice,” said Miller at a press briefing.

Miller said the US would be having “further conversations over the coming days, coming weeks” with Israeli officials about a potential Rafah operation “and how they could achieve it in a better way.”

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