Israeli PM Netanyahu stresses importance of Rafah operation to eliminate Hamas: ‘No force will deter us’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized his military’s commitment to eliminating Hamas during his speech at an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Induction Base. “We will complete the elimination of Hamas’ battalions, including in Rafah,” he said. “No force in the world will stop us.””There are many forces trying to do this, but it will not help because this enemy, after what it has done, will not do this again: Neither will it exist,” he added. “We are committed to doing this, and each one of you now, at this base, will contribute in one way or another to completing the goal. This must be.”Netanyahu spoke to new recruits scheduled to join the forces, including potential deployment to the Gaza Strip for the operation. The prime minister reviewed statistics about the new recruits and commented on how impressed he has been with their motivation to serve their country. “This is a very significant day in your lives and in the life of the state,” Netanyahu proclaimed. “The state exists because of our ability to defend ourselves. These attacks have not ceased since the state was established; this has been the fate of the Jewish people for hundreds and even thousands of years.””What changed with the establishment of the state is our ability to repel these attacks, sometimes at a very heavy cost, but with a strength that the entire world understands, may not always like, but we know that without it, we would not exist,” he stressed. “This is what you are doing here today, in the various units, brigades and corps,” he continued. “We are, in effect, defending the existence of our state, which is also the personal existence of each and every one of you, your families, your friends and the coming generations.””This is no exaggeration or lofty words,” Netanyahu said. “These are very precise words; this is what will determine if our state exists.”Netanyahu earlier this week stressed his opposition to a cease-fire unless Hamas releases all remaining hostages, but he ordered the majority of his ground forces to after claiming the IDF’s 98th commando division had “concluded its mission in Khan Yunis.” “The division left the Gaza Strip in order to recuperate and prepare for future operations,” the IDF said in a statement issued Sunday.”A significant force led by the 162nd division and the Nahal brigade continues to operate in the south of the strip, and will preserve the IDF’s freedom of action and its ability to conduct precise intelligence-based operations,” the statement continued.Netanyahu promised his cabinet that the war in Gaza would continue, however, arguing that “there is no war more just than this one.”Netanyahu said that his forces had set a date for the Rafah incursion, foreign correspondent Trey Yingst reported.President Biden and regional allies have called for an end to the fighting. The U.S., U.K. and Qatar have continued to seek a deal with Hamas to secure the release of all hostages, but negotiations have hit several roadblocks from both Israel and Hamas.Biden in March said he endorsed the sentiment expressed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that the U.S. should be more willing to consider a ceasefire and abandon further ground operations.Speaking from the Oval Office, Biden said, “Sen. Schumer contacted my staff, my senior staff. I’m not going to elaborate on the speech. He made a good speech, and I think he expressed a serious concern, shared not only by him but by many Americans.” Digital’s Yonat Friling, Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.