Netanyahu vows to defy Biden’s ‘red line’ and invade Rafah

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TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to press ahead with an invasion of the city of Rafah on the southern border of the Gaza Strip in defiance of US President Joe Biden, who has warned such an offensive would be a "red line."اضافة اعلان

Amid signs of increasing frustration with Netanyahu, the US president told MSNBC on Saturday that he opposed an escalation of the conflict into Rafah, and that he could not accept "30,000 more Palestinians dead."

When asked on Sunday whether Israeli forces would move into Rafah, Netanyahu replied: "We will go there. We are not going to leave. You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is, that October 7 does not happen again. Never happens again." 

Without naming them, Netanyahu claimed he had the tacit support of several Arab leaders for driving ahead with the onslaught against Hamas.

“They understand that, and even agree with it quietly,” he said in an interview POLITICO. “They understand Hamas is part of the Iranian terror axis.”

He also predicted the fighting could end in as little as a month.

“We have destroyed three-quarters of Hamas' fighting terrorism battalions. And we're close to finishing the last part in warfare,” the Israeli leader said. Fighting would not “take more than two months.”

“Maybe six weeks, maybe four," he added.  

Netanyahu also gave his own death estimates. Some 13,000 Palestinian fighters had been killed, he said, while the civilian death rate was estimated at 1 to1.5 for every combatant. That would put the total killed — fighters and civilians — at over 26,000.

He also dismissed the idea of a cease-fire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, saying while he would “like to see another hostage release,” he did not see any “breakthrough in the negotiations ... Without a release there is not going to be a pause in the fighting.”  

Israel's prime minister also doubled down on his rejection of the possibility of a Palestinian state — a topic that pits Israel against most of the rest of the world.

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