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World News February 20, 2024

Israel sets Ramadan deadline for offensive on Gazan city Rafah

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz has announced that Israel will launch an offensive against Rafah next month if Hamas does not release the remaining hostages held in Gaza by the start of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on March 10. Gantz emphasized that if the hostages are not freed by that time, the fighting will extend to the Rafah area. The Israeli government had not previously specified a deadline for the planned assault on Rafah. Despite international pressure to spare Rafah, including appeals from U.S. President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on pressing into Rafah to achieve total victory over Hamas. Gantz stated that any offensive would be coordinated with Americans and Egyptians to facilitate evacuation and minimize civilian casualties. The location for the safe relocation of civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip remains unclear. Ceasefire talks in recent weeks have failed to produce a deal, and the prospects for an agreement are dimming. Washington, Israel’s key ally, has been pushing for a six-week truce in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza. Israel estimates around 130 hostages, including approximately 30 presumed dead, are still held in Gaza, with many believed to be in Rafah.

Source – CGTN

Photo Credit – The Wall Street Journal

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