Netanyahu remains steadfast in the Rafah offensive despite tensions in the US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged tensions with historic ally the US over the military offensive in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, but insisted the operation is necessary to protect Israeli security.

“Yes, we have a disagreement about Gaza. Preferably about Rafah. But we have to do what we have to do,” Netanyahu said in an interview with CNBC's Sara Eisen on Wednesday. “And you know, sometimes you just have to… you just have to do what it takes to secure your survival and your future. We can't continue into the future by letting Hamas retake Gaza.”

The US and other countries have expressed concern that Israel will deepen its offensive against Rafah, citing fears for the safety of Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire of Israel's war against Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel has repeatedly said its conflict is against Hamas and that it does not target non-combatants, but human rights and aid groups have highlighted the impact of the military campaign and the lack of resources for the civilian population stranded in the Gaza enclave .

According to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, more than 1,200 people have been murdered in Israel since October. Meanwhile, according to the latest official count from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 35,000 people have died in the Gaza Strip.

“I hope we can stand face to face with the United States, we talk to them, but in the end we do what we have to do to protect the life of our nation,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that Washington cannot authorize a military incursion at Rafah without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

“In the absence of a credible plan to get them out of harm's way and support them, the president has been clear for some time that we cannot and will not support a major military operation in Rafah,” he said in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, according to a readout from the US Department of State.

The EU's chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on social media on Wednesday that the EU “urges Israel to immediately end its military operation in Rafah, which is causing increased internal displacement, exposure to famine and human suffering. We condemn Hamas' attack in Kerem Shalom.”

The Rafah crossing

Israel continues to disagree with neighboring Egypt over the opening of the Rafah crossing to allow new humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

“We will not stop the opening of Rafah,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

His comments come after Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on social media on Tuesday that he spoke to his British and German counterparts on Monday “about the need to convince Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing,” noting that “the The key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now in the hands of our Egyptian friends.”

Egypt has previously criticized the continued closure of the Rafah crossing due to Israeli military operations taking place nearby.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNBC: I hope we can reach an agreement with the United States

Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel is targeting the destruction of four remaining Hamas battalions. Earlier this month, Israel began its offensive in Rafah, where the UN says 1.4 million displaced people have taken refuge. Israel has been waging a retaliatory campaign in the Gaza Strip since October, following a terror attack carried out by Hamas that same month.

The hostilities have exacerbated tensions in the Middle East, with Israel trading attacks with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and with long-time rival Iran. The conflict has also spilled over into global markets, given disruptions to maritime trade due to Yemeni Houthi attacks and continued uncertainty over crude oil supplies from the oil-rich areas of the Middle East.

It has clouded the prospects for a possible normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which is highly coveted by the US.

The fate of the Gaza Strip

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