update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu: ‘We will eliminate the Hamas battalions in Rafah’

The prime minister told IDF recruits that "there is no force in the world that will stop us" from defeating the terror group in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with soldiers from Yahalom, a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps, at the IDF's Immanuel Base near Kiryat Malachi, Oct. 24, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with soldiers from Yahalom, a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps, at the IDF's Immanuel Base near Kiryat Malachi, Oct. 24, 2023. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Tuesday that the Hamas battalions in Rafah will be defeated amid questions about whether a full-scale invasion of Gaza’s southernmost city will take place.

“We will complete the elimination of Hamas’s battalions, including in Rafah. No force in the world will stop us…. After what [Hamas] has done, it will not do this again. Neither will it exist,” the premier said at a reception for IDF recruits at Tel Hashomer base in Ramat Gan.

The remarks come after earlier in the week the IDF announced the withdrawal of ground forces from southern Gaza after four months of fighting in Khan Yunis and six months of war, leaving only one battalion left in the Strip.

Netanyahu on Monday night confirmed that the Rafah operation will proceed, saying that a date has been set for the military offensive.

“We are constantly working to achieve our goals—first and foremost the release of all our hostages and achieving a complete victory over Hamas.
This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there,” the premier said.

The Israeli government has repeatedly emphasized that telling Israel to refrain from operating in Rafah is equivalent to demanding that it lose the war. Many of the 133 hostages still in the hands of Hamas after 184 days are believed to be held in Rafah. Two captives were rescued from the city by special forces in a daring military operation in February.

Netanyahu on Tuesday also repeated his oft-stated war goals of eliminating Hamas, returning the hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again poses a threat to Israel.

“There is a fourth objective: Hamas is part of Iran’s axis of evil, which aims to destroy us. And when we defeat Hamas, it is not only defeating Hamas–it is defeating the axis. Everyone in the Middle East and beyond is sitting in the stands and watching who will win on this field, Israel or Iran and its proxies. You already know who will win,” added Netanyahu.

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