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"Made Clear To Biden That Rafah Ground Operation Crucial To Destroy Hamas": Netanyahu

07:43 AM Mar 20, 2024 IST | NEWS Desk
 made clear to biden that rafah ground operation crucial to destroy hamas    netanyahu
"Made Clear To Biden That Rafah Ground Operation Crucial To Destroy Hamas": Netanyahu

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) will go ahead with the ground operation in Rafah, despite global concerns, and he has told US President Joe Biden about the same, the Times of Israel reported.

"We have a disagreement with the Americans about the need to enter Rafah," Netanyahu told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

"Not about the need to eliminate Hamas -- the need to enter Rafah. We do not see a way to eliminate Hamas militarily without destroying these remaining battalions. We are determined to do it," Netanyahu said.

The Israeli PM said that there is no way to destroy or eliminate Hamas other than the ground operation.

"I made it clear to the president in our conversation, in the clearest way, that we are determined to complete the elimination of these battalions in Rafah," said Netanyahu. "There is no way to do it, except by going in on the ground."

Biden, during a phone call with Netanyahu on Monday, effectively ruled out any potential support for a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, which abuts the Egyptian border in Gaza's southernmost tip, as reported by the Times of Israel.

"A major ground operation would be a mistake. It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza and further isolate Israel internationally," US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Netanyahu added in his discussion with Israeli legislators that the two leaders agreed on a mechanism for the Americans to share their ideas on humanitarian aid and the evacuation of civilians, a concern that he said Israel shares.

"We need to complete the military elimination of Hamas," he said. "There is no substitute for that, you can't go around it, you can't say, 'We'll destroy 80 per cent of Hamas, we'll [leave] 20 per cent,' because that 20 per cent will reorganize and retake the Strip, and of course they will pose a renewed threat to Israel, and of course it will also be a victory for the broader axis that threatens us -- the Iranian axis," Netanyahu added.

Meanwhile, the White House readout of Biden's call with Netanyahu stated that the former had warned against the operation in Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge.

Biden and Netanyahu agreed to have their teams meet soon in Washington to exchange views and discuss 'alternative approaches' that would target key elements of Hamas and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground operation in Rafah, the White House said.

Biden asked Netanyahu to send a senior team composed of military, intelligence, and humanitarian officials to Washington to discuss an alternative approach that would target Hamas in Rafah and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground invasion.

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