Netanyahu: Once We Begin the Rafah Operation, Victory Is ‘Weeks Away’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that victory in their war with Hamas was “weeks away” once the Israeli military operation began in Rafah, a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said, “I’ve set three war goals. The first is to release the hostages. The second is to destroy Hamas. And the third is to ensure that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future. And obviously, the three are intertwined. They, they’re achieved, basically by our very effective and often heroic military operation. And also by tough negotiations, we’re combining the two and I hope it- it yields a result, but understand that unless we have total victory, we can’t have peace. We can’t leave Hamas in place. We can’t leave a quarter of Hamas battalions in Rafah and say, well, that’s- that’s fine, they’ll be there. It’s like saying a quarter of ISIS will be left and with a defined territory, because you know, they will reconstitute themselves immediately. So total victory is important to achieve the war goal of destroying Hamas, releasing the hostages, and ensuring that Gaza doesn’t pose a threat. But I think also is essential for any future peaceful Middle East.”

He added, “Hamas is a terrorist organization that- once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion, not months, weeks away from completion. And that is- we’ve already destroyed 18 of the 24 Hamas terrorist battalions. So we- we have– and four of them are concentrated in the Rafah. We can’t leave the last Hamas stronghold without taking care of it, obviously, we have to do it. But understand, too, that I’ve asked the army to submit to me a double plan, first to evacuate to enable the evacuation of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and, obviously, second, to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions. That gets us a real, real distance towards the completion of our victory, and that- we’re not going to give it up. If we have a deal, it’ll be delayed somewhat. But it’ll happen. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway. It has to be done. Because total victory is our goal, and total victory is within reach. Not months away, weeks away once we begin the operation.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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