Netanyahu says there can be no victory until Hamas is destroyed

(CNN) — Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said this Sunday during an interview with the CBS program Face the Nation that “victory is within our reach and there can be no victory without eliminating Hamas.”

Netanyahu said he has set three war goals: “freeing the hostages,” “destroying Hamas” and “ensuring that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel,” adding: “We will put Hamas in its place.” But we can’t leave. We can’t leave even a quarter of it.” There are Hamas battalions in Rafah and they say it’s OK.”

“Without dealing with Hamas, we cannot give up its last bastion,” Netanyahu said.

He said that once Israel “launches operations in Rafah, the acute phase of the fighting will take several weeks, if not months, to complete.”

Netanyahu said Hamas’s last “command stronghold” is in Rafah, adding that four command battalions are concentrated there. CNN cannot independently verify those figures.

Netanyahu said he has asked the Israeli army to present a two-pronged plan. “First, to allow Palestinian civilians to exit Gaza and, obviously, second, to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions. This gives us real distance toward concluding our victory and we will not back down from this.”

With or without the agreement, Netanyahu said of the military operation: “We will do it anyway” because “complete victory is our goal.”

Asked about a credible plan that the White House wants to protect the 1.4 million civilians sheltering in Rafah before the start of the military operation, Netanyahu said the reason for the population in Rafah is to protect it from war zones in the north. He said there is now “room for them to go north to Rafah,” to places where Israel has ended fighting.

(TagstoTranslate)Benjamin Netanyahu(T)War Israel and Hamas(T)Hamas

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