Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military Friday to prepare a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians from the Gaza town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border, and to attack and destroy the last Hamas battalions there.
Israel has said for days that it intends to attack Hamas in Rafah, the last area of the Gaza Strip that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have not struck. The town is crucial to Israeli victory: it is used by Hamas to smuggle weapons, and people in and out.
However, it is also the place to which many Palestinian civilians displaced by fighting elsewhere in Gaza have fled. Egypt has publicly opposed an Israeli attack on Rafah because of the possibility that it would encourage Palestinians to cross the border.
On Thursday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be a “disaster” under present conditions, and that the U.S. would not support it. He claimed, bizarrely, that Israel was not preparing such an attack — despite numerous public statements by Israeli spokespeople and by Netanyahu himself that an attack on Rafah was both imminent and necessary to win the war, after Israel had destroyed almost all of Hamas’s terrorist Battalions in Gaza.
Also on Thursday, President Joe Biden shocked Israelis by saying that Israel’s conduct in Gaza against Hamas had been “over the top,” suggesting the U.S. wanted to stop the war.
On Friday, just before sundown and the onset of the Jewish Sabbath, Netanyahu delivered the following statement (translated from Hebrew by the Government Press Organization):
It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.
On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.
Therefore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the IDF and the security establishment to submit to the Cabinet a combined plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions.
While there is support among the Israeli public for a hostage deal that would include an extended pause in fighting, Israelis generally do not want to stop the war until Hamas has been destroyed and can never threaten it with attacks or rockets ever again.
On Thursday evening, thousands of Israeli reservists demonstrated outside the main government offices in Jerusalem, demanding that the IDF fight until victory had been achieved, and opposing any weak deal that would let Hamas survive in Gaza.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.