update deskIsrael at War

PMO mum on report Rafah op postponed

The IDF is calling up reservists to reinforce troops carrying out targeted raids against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to delay the Israel Defense Forces operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, Israel’s Kan News broadcaster reported Sunday night.

According to information approved by the military censor, the initial date set by the government was postponed for undisclosed reasons.

Kan News said it could not divulge additional details on the issue. Asked by JNS to confirm the reported delay, the Prime Minister’s Office said it would not comment on the matter.

Also on Sunday, the IDF announced the call-up of two reserve brigades to reinforce troops carrying out targeted raids against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Following the IDF’s withdrawal of almost all ground forces from Gaza on April 7, the army has shifted into a new phase in the war against Hamas, which last week saw forces enter the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya as well as Nuseirat in the central Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has told IDF soldiers that the decision to withdraw troops was made in preparation for the looming offensive in Rafah, where Hamas’s final battalions are concentrated and where the senior leadership and remaining hostages are believed to be.

“The forces came out [of the Strip] and are preparing for their future missions, we saw examples of such missions in action at [Gaza City’s Al] Shifa [Hospital], and also for their future mission in the Rafah area,” Gallant stated on April 7.

Netanyahu on April 8 confirmed that the Rafah operation would proceed, claiming that a date had been set for the 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. According to Israel, the final four Hamas battalions, comprising some 3,000 terrorists, are holed up in the city along the Egyptian border.

Many of the 133 hostages still in the hands of Hamas after 190 days are believed to be held in the southernmost city. Two captives were rescued from the city by special forces in a military operation in February.

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