Netanyahu Vows To Invade Rafah ‘With or Without’ a Hostage Deal

The threat is expected to hamper ceasefire negotiations as Hamas is looking for a commitment to work toward a permanent truce

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday that Israel will invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah “with or without” a hostage deal with Hamas, a threat that could derail fragile ceasefire negotiations.

“The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” Netanyahu told representatives of hostage families, according to a statement from his office.

“We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there – with or without a deal, in order to achieve the total victory,” he added.

Rafah is packed with over 1 million Palestinian civilians, and any Israeli invasion would incur huge civilian casualties and further disrupt aid shipments into the Strip. The US has said it’s opposed to Israel launching the attack without a plan for the civilians. But an evacuation is not feasible since there’s no place for civilians to go, and the US doesn’t appear to be applying any real pressure since unconditional military aid continues to flow.

Netanyahu’s threat comes as Hamas is preparing a written response to Israel’s latest proposal in the Egyptian and Qatari-mediated ceasefire talks. Axios reported that the deal Israel put on the table includes a willingness to discuss a “restoration of sustainable calm” after an initial hostage and prisoner release, which is said to be a concession toward Hamas’s demand for a permanent ceasefire.

But Netanyahu’s comments make it clear that he will not agree to a permanent truce. During previous rounds of negotiations, Israeli officials involved in the talks told Haaretz that it seemed like Netanyahu was purposely sabotaging the chances of a deal.

According to media reports, the first phase of the Israeli proposal Hamas is reviewing would involve the release of as many as 33 Israeli hostages in exchange in exchange for a pause in Israeli military operations and the release of Palestinian prisoners. According to CNN, Israel helped Egypt craft the proposal but has not fully agreed to it.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.