newsIsrael at War

Coalition members rally around Rafah op

The entry of the IDF into Rafah promotes the two main goals of the war, said Foreign Minister Israel Katz

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz holds up a photo of baby Kfir Bibas and a montage of several young women, all held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. Credit: MFA.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz holds up a photo of baby Kfir Bibas and a montage of several young women, all held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. Credit: MFA.

Responding on Tuesday morning to the Israeli military’s launch on Monday evening of a ground operation in Rafah, Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted: “If not for the hostages dear to our hearts, for whose release we are bound by a supreme obligation and for whom we will do everything to bring home, the Hamas gang would have long since been crushed and thrown into the dustbin of history. The entry of the IDF into Rafah promotes the two main goals of the war: the release of the hostages and the defeat of Hamas.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Monday night reacted to Hamas’s “approval” of a hostage deal that Israel reportedly hadn’t yet seen, writing on X: “Hamas’s exercises and games have only one answer: an immediate order to occupy Rafah! Increasing military pressure, and continuing the complete defeat of Hamas, until its complete defeat.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Tuesday expressed opposition to the War Cabinet’s decision to continue indirect negotiations with Hamas in Cairo, and warned the government against “falling into the manipulative trap set for us by Hamas, together with Qatar and Egypt.”

“This is the time to press more and more on the neck of [Yahya] Sinwar and Hamas until they are destroyed. Talk only under fire. We must not give in to international pressure and cannot stop until victory and the submission of the enemy,” added the Religious Zionist Party leader.

At the outset of the operation, Religious Zionist Party MK Ohad Tal tweeted: “For the kidnapped! For the residents of [Gaza envelope]! Until victory!” He also added a passage from the prayer traditionally recited for the success of the IDF.

The IDF announced on Tuesday morning: “Following intelligence indicting that the crossing in eastern Rafah was being used for terrorist purposes, troops managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing.”

The entry into Rafah came hours after Hamas announced that it had “accepted” a ceasefire deal. Israel was reportedly caught off guard, because the terms of the supposed deal had not been sent to its negotiating team.

An Israeli official told Ynet that “this is an exercise by Hamas meant to present Israel as the refuser,” and that the new proposal did not come up in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters at a briefing on Monday night that Jerusalem “considers every [Hamas answer] very seriously and will exhaust every possibility for negotiations and the return of the hostages to their homes as quickly as possible.”

He added, “At the same time, we are continuing and will continue to operate in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed to journalists in Washington on Monday that the Biden administration had received Hamas’s official answer and was studying it.

“We have only received a response in the last hour, 90 minutes,” he stated. “[We] are going through it now and discussing it with partners in the region, so I don’t want to characterize the nature of that response just yet.”

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