update deskIsrael at War

Gallant to Austin: IDF Rafah op a go absent hostage deal

"The State of Israel will not tolerate the ongoing presence of terrorist frameworks bordering its communities," said Israeli Defense Minister Gallant.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant overnight Sunday briefed his American counterpart Lloyd Austin on Hamas’s rocket attack from Rafah that killed three IDF soldiers at the Kerem Shalom humanitarian crossing in Israel.

The slain troops were identified as Staff Sgt. Ruben Marc Mordechai Assouline, 19, from Ra’anana; Staff Sgt. Ido Testa, 19, from Jerusalem; and Staff Sgt. Tal Shavit, 21, from Kfar Giladi.

Another 11 soldiers were wounded in the attack, according to the military.

Gallant also highlighted efforts undertaken to achieve the release of the 132 hostages still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, stressing that at this stage the Palestinian terror group was solely responsible for the absence of a deal.

He emphasized that “military action is required, including in the area of Rafah, [for] lack of an alternative. Hamas continues to conduct attacks on the State of Israel and its citizens, while also indicating a lack of seriousness in regard to the frameworks that were submitted for the release of hostages.”

Israel “will not tolerate the ongoing presence of terrorist frameworks bordering its communities and is committed to achieving the goals of the war—the destruction of Hamas as a military and governing authority, and the return of 132 hostages,” he added.

Earlier Sunday, Gallant told troops in the Gaza Strip that Jerusalem is seeing “worrying signs” that Hamas has no intention of agreeing to any deal.

Hamas’s refusal “means action in Rafah and the entire Strip in the near future,” Gallant said during a tour of the IDF’s Netzarim Corridor, that splits the coastal enclave between north and south.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday decried the terrorist organization’s “extreme” negotiating positions at the Cairo talks.

“While Israel showed this willingness [to compromise], Hamas remained entrenched in its extreme positions, chief among them the demand to withdraw all our forces from the Strip, end the war and leave Hamas intact,” said Netanyahu.

During Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Gallant said the IDF offensive in Rafah is expected to take place “very soon.”

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