Netanyahu defends the planned attack on Rafah

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday defended his plan to expand Israel's military offensive in the southern city of Rafah while his defense minister warned Hamas against testing Israel's resolve during Ramadan.

Netanyahu rejected the objections of President Joe Biden and other world leaders to the Rafah invasion, saying he did not want to leave “a quarter of Hamas’ terrorist army in place.”

Speaking on Fox News Channel's “Fox & Friends” program, Netanyahu said Hamas must be completely defeated, otherwise the armed group will regroup, regain control of Gaza and repeat the October 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people and took about 250 hostage.

More than a million Palestinians took refuge in Rafah on the southern border with Egypt as Israel invaded Gaza. Biden agrees with the need to destroy Hamas, but wants to ensure the safe exit of civilians from Rafah. “Before we go in, we agree with that,” Netanyahu said.

“Look, it's either Israel or Hamas. There's no middle way,” Netanyahu said. “We can't leave a quarter of the Hamas terrorist army in place. They're over there in Rafah. That would be like saying, you know, after the Allies resisted, they passed through Normandy, they passed through Germany, and you're like, 'Okay, we'll leave a quarter of the Nazi army in place.' We will not go to Berlin, the last stronghold.”

Netanyahu rejects Biden: He says Israelis overwhelmingly support the war

Developments:

∎ Narrated Mahjoub Al-Zwairi, a professor at Qatar University Al Jazeera The United States has pressured Israel not to tighten restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, the third holiest mosque in the West Bank, during the month of Ramadan. “If the Israelis do not listen to the Americans, the West Bank will likely become another Gaza within months,” Zweiri warned.

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∎ Israeli forces and security forces arrested 20 wanted persons in an operation described as an anti-terrorism operation in the West Bank. The Israeli army said that 3,500 suspects have been arrested in the West Bank since the war began, more than 1,500 of whom are linked to Hamas.

∎ The United States, France, Jordan, Egypt and Belgium conducted a total of seven airdrops of humanitarian aid into Gaza on Monday, Reuters reported, including more than 27,000 meals and about 26,000 bottles of water. By American forces To the devastated northern part of the territory.

∎ The Gaza Ministry of Health announced that at least 25 people, most of them children, had died from malnutrition and dehydration in northern Gaza.

∎ Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani dismissed US efforts to airdrop aid as “merely symbolic” and part of a US attempt to justify supplying Israel with weapons used in Gaza.

When is Ramadan 2024? What is this? Muslims are preparing to celebrate the month of spirituality and meditation

Israeli officials suggest that their forces killed some senior Hamas leaders, including two of the highest ranks.

The Israeli military said Monday that it targeted Marwan Issa — Hamas's second military commander and one of the masterminds of the October 7 attacks — in an airstrike on Saturday on an underground compound he uses in central Gaza. He added: “We are still evaluating the results of the strike and will inform the public about them when we are sure.” The Israeli army said in a statement.

Defense Minister Yoav Galant appeared to indicate that the mission was accomplished when he said on Monday: “There have been successes, including in recent days, and there will be more successes.” Operations are continuing and moving in the right direction.”

Netanyahu also said on Monday that Israel had killed “the fourth man in Hamas,” without mentioning his name. This appears to be an acknowledgment of the assassination of Saleh Al-Arouri, the political vice president of Hamas and founder of the movement's military wing, who was killed in an explosion in Beirut last January. Israel did not claim responsibility for this attack.

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“Three, two, and one is on the way. They are all dead men,” Netanyahu said. “We will get to them all.”

Air attacks believed to have been launched by US and British forces killed at least 11 people and injured 14 others on Monday in coastal cities and small towns in western Yemen, Reuters reported, citing a Yemeni government spokesman.

The air strikes come five days after three crew members were killed in a Houthi missile attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, the latest in a series of attacks on commercial ships by Yemeni rebels and the first deadly.

Previous joint military responses by the US and UK have not deterred the Iran-backed Houthis, who say their attacks on ships in the busy Red Sea passage are aimed at supporting Palestinians in stricken Gaza.

Reuters reported that the main coastal city of Hodeidah was among the areas hit by at least 17 airstrikes on Monday.

The beginning of the holy month of Ramadan prompted Muslims around the world to fast and worship on Monday, but it did not bring an end to the death and destruction caused by the war in the Gaza Strip despite intense efforts by the United States and other countries to mediate a halt to it. -fire.

Palestinians prayed amid rubble and fear after the talks faltered due to Israel's determination to crush Hamas and demand that the armed group end the Israeli offensive and withdraw all its forces from Gaza. Hamas called for an escalation of resistance, which sparked a warning from Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant.

He said: “I tell everyone who is thinking about trying it this month: We are ready. Do not make mistakes.”

Biden issued a statement in which he acknowledged that the month of Ramadan had arrived “at a moment of intense pain” in the Strip, where the death toll exceeded 31,000, while about two million were still displaced. He said the United States would continue to lead efforts to increase humanitarian aid while “working nonstop” to broker a peace agreement.

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“As Muslims around the world gather over the coming days and weeks to break their fast, the suffering of the Palestinian people will be at the forefront of the minds of many,” Biden said. “It's at the front of my mind for me.”

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi warned on Monday that any restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of Muslim worshipers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque campus during the month of fasting could lead to an “explosion.” A video posted on social media on Sunday night appears to show clashes between Israeli border police and worshipers, and police say they are working to “enable freedom of worship (while ensuring safety and security).”

Israel announced last week that it would not reduce the number of worshipers allowed to pray at the site, one of the three holiest Islamic sites, for at least a week while security monitored. The mosque is part of the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism where two biblical temples once stood.

The British Army's British Maritime Trade Operations Center said an explosion occurred near a ship in the Red Sea on Monday, but the ship's captain said no one was hurt. The attack likely came from Houthi rebels based in Yemen who targeted the ships, claiming they support the Palestinians in Gaza. Private security company Ambrey said the incident may have been related to a missile, but few details were available and the Houthis did not issue an immediate statement.

A Houthi missile hit the merchant ship True Confidence in the Gulf of Aden last week, killing three crew members and forcing survivors to abandon ship. This was the first fatal strike since the attacks began in November.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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