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Israel ready to carry out operation in Rafah even without US’ support — Netanyahu

The Israeli prime minister said that there is "no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah and without eliminating the remaining battalions there"

TEL AVIV, March 22. /TASS/. Israel will not reject its plans to hold a military operation in the city of Rafah on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, and is ready to begin it even without the US’ support, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Tel Aviv with a visit.

"Today, I met with Secretary of State Blinken. I told him that I appreciate the fact that we have been fighting a war against Hamas together for over five months already. I also told him that we understand the need for evacuation of civilian population for hostilities area, and, of course, for satisfaction of humanitarian demands, and we work in this direction," Netanyahu said in a video address, published by the cabinet.

"But I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah and without eliminating the remaining battalions there. And I told him that, I hope that we will do it with the US’ support; but, if we have to, we will do it on our own," the Prime Minister added.

Before Israel, Blinken visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt within his Middle East tour. On March 21, he said in Cairo that Washington considers the potential large-scale military operation in Rafah a mistake and cannot endorse such step. Previously, on March 17, Netanyahu said that Israel plans to carry out an operation in Rafah in several weeks. He confirmed that operational plans of action in this city have already been approved.

The situation in the Middle East sharply escalated following an incursion of Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into Israel on October 7. Israel has declared a complete siege of the Gaza Strip and started a military operation there. Israel also strikes parts of Lebanon and Syria in retaliation for bombardments originating from these countries. Clashes are also taking place in the West Bank.