Netanyahu Says Hostage Deal Will Only Delay Attack on Rafah

The Israeli leader made the statement after the White House rolled out a new hostage release proposal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained that if Tel Aviv agrees to a new hostage deal with Hamas, it will only “delay” the Israeli attack on Rafah. International aid organizations have warned that an attack on the city of 1.5 million will be devastating to the civilian population of Gaza.

On Friday, the US, Egypt, and Qatar presented a new hostage deal that would see the release of 40 Israeli captives in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting. The deal was negotiated without the input of Tel Aviv and Hamas. While US and Israeli officials have presented the hostage release proposal as progress, neither Tel Aviv nor Hamas have signed on to it.

Hamas’ top priority is ending the Israeli onslaught. Netanyahu’s remarks signal Israel is unwilling to end the war until every city in Gaza is destroyed. “Once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion. Not months,” Netanyahu told CBS. “If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway.”

From north to south, Israel’s operations have systematically annihilated the Strip. The operations have killed over 30,000 Palestinians and driven 1.5 million to the southernmost city of Rafah. Aid organizations that operate in Gaza warn an assault on Rafah will be catastrophic as there is no other place for the Palestinian people to flee.

“Rafah is the end of the line. There is nowhere else to flee. Even if displaced people return north, they will find no homes to go back to, and no supply lines to bring in food, water, medicines, or any other essentials,” Avril Benoit, executive director of Doctors Without Borders, said. “The consequences of a full-scale assault on Rafah are truly unimaginable. We cannot stand by and wait for this to unfold.”

The White House has asked Tel Aviv not to attack Rafah until a plan is in place for the Palestinians. However, Israel has routinely ignored US requests since the war in Gaza broke out. President Biden has refused to condition US support for Israel on Tel Aviv’s compliance with Washington’s demands.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.