Netanyahu plans to invade Rafah with or without a deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to launch an incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, even as cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas show signs of progress. The proposed operation comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in Israel to advance the truce talks, which are considered one of the most serious rounds of negotiations since the conflict began almost 7 months ago.

Netanyahu's statement indicated Israel's intention to enter Rafah, Hamas' alleged last stronghold, with or without a truce-for-hostages deal. The U.S. has expressed opposition to the operation until Israel presents a credible plan for evacuating and protecting the estimated 1.5 million people seeking shelter in Rafah.

The current deal being discussed, brokered by the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar, would involve the release of hostages in exchange for a temporary halt in fighting. However, a key sticking point remains over the eventual release of all hostages and a complete end to Israel's assault in Gaza.

Critics of Netanyahu have accused him of making decisions based on political considerations rather than national interests, with some suggesting his government could collapse if he agrees to a deal that prevents an offensive in Rafah. The coalition government, composed of ultranationalist and conservative religious parties, has been under pressure to take a hardline approach towards Hamas.

As negotiations continue, the focus remains on improving the humanitarian situation, bringing hostages home, and reaching a lasting cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The situation remains complex and delicate, with the fate of thousands of lives hanging in the balance.


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