Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Adamant To Claim Victory: 'Ceasefire Deal Would Only Delay Military Offensive In Rafah'


(MENAFN- Live Mint) "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, February 25, said that an Israeli military offensive in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah could be“delayed somewhat” if a deal is reached for a weekslong ceasefire between Israel and Hamas further claimed that total victory in the territory would come within weeks once the offensive begins in Rafah, as four of the six remaining Hamas battalions are concentrated there. Thus, Israel is set to undertake plans to expand its offensive against the Hamas militant group to Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border, even as humanitarian groups have warned of a catastrophe. In Rafah, more than half the besieged Palestinian population of 2.3 million have sought refuge and is Gaza's main entry point for aid read: Israel-Hamas War: 1.5 million Palestinian civilians forced to evacuate due to Israeli attacks; 10 updatesIsrael confirmed the news about a deal in progress, reported CBS. An Egyptian official informed Egypt's state-run Al Qahera TV that talks over the ceasefire resumed on Sunday in Qatar, and discussions would follow in Cairo to release hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel read: Israel-Gaza war: 'Hamas doesn't represent Palestinian people,' says US President Joe BidenThe Israeli PM is set to head a meeting of the Cabinet this week to approve operational plans, including the evacuation of civilians in Rafah to elsewhere in Gaza. Netanyahu said,“Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion. Not months,” reported CBS.“If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway.”Also read: Netanyahu Says He'll Soon Have Plan for Rafah CiviliansUS national security adviser Jake Sullivan claimed that President Joe Biden hadn't been briefed on the Rafah plan and said,“We believe that this operation should not go forward until or unless we see (a plan to protect civilians),” reported NBC ongoing mediatory talks in Egypt, where Qatar is acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, have resulted in the drafting of the ceasefire deal. This deal includes the release of at least 40 women and elderly hostages in return for at least 300 Palestinian prisoners, who are mostly women, minors and older people read: Israel's chipmaker Tower Semiconductor proposes to set up $8 billion plant in India: reportCiting sources, the proposed six-week-long pause in fighting would permit the delivery of aid in Gaza every day. Meanwhile, negotiators face an unofficial deadline with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around March 10 read: South Africa urges World Court to pressure Israel to halt Rafah offensiveHowever, Hamas claimed that it was not involved in the latest proposal developed by the United States, Egypt and Qatar but informed that the proposal largely matches its earlier demand for the first phase of a truce.(With inputs from AP)

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