Israel has circled date in calendar for repeatedly pledged Rafah invasion, PM says

The Times of Israel reports: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he has set a date for the IDF to launch its much-anticipated offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

‘Victory [over Hamas] requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen. There is a date,’ Netanyahu said in a video statement, which didn’t reveal the timing of the planned operation.

The premier has announced his authorization of IDF operational plans for Rafah at least four times over the past two months, but no offensive is anticipated in the immediate future, particularly after the IDF on Sunday withdrew entirely from Khan Younis, further shrinking its troop presence in Gaza. The IDF had roughly 30,000 troops in Gaza at the peak of the war and was down to several thousand even before the latest withdrawal — far fewer than the presence required to carry out a major ground invasion…”

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