Benny Gantz in USA: The operation in Rafah will happen

A member of the Israeli war cabinet, Benny Gantz, told US officials that the end of the war in Gaza without a military operation in Rafah is not acceptable for Israel, and added that after that the Palestinians will no longer govern Gaza

by Sededin Dedovic
Benny Gantz in USA: The operation in Rafah will happen
© Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

Benny Gantz, a prominent member of Israel's war cabinet, sent a resounding message to US officials, stressing Israel's position on ending the conflict in Gaza. Despite facing challenges and pressures, Gantz maintains that ending the conflict in Gaza without a military operation in Rafah is unacceptable to Israel.

Gantz, a former defense minister and chief of staff, articulated in Washington that Israel intends to dismantle the Hamas leadership in Rafah as part of its war aims, as reported by Israeli media. Rafah is the last refuge of 1.5 million Palestinian refugees who are starving and facing possibly the worst humanitarian disaster in decades.

During a meeting with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Gantz compared ending the conflict without action in Rafah to sending firefighters to put out only 80% of the fire, as reported by Israel Hayom. In addition, Gantz worked with Vice President Kamala Harris, White House Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Brett McGurk, senators and members of Congress, according to Israeli media reports.

Some talks on humanitarian issues have reportedly been strained, with the Biden administration expressing significant doubt about Israel's ability to evacuate the 1.2 million Gazans currently in Rafah before military operations begin.

Gantz rejected these assessments, stressing the importance of operations in Rafah. Regarding humanitarian aid, he noted that the challenge is not in providing aid to Gaza, but in distributing it among civilians, given Hamas's efforts to maintain control over them.

He also reportedly suggested that intermittent chaos in Gaza was preferable to thwarting Hamas rule. He claims that it will be disastrous for the State of Israel and stressed that "the job needs to be finished". Gantz rejected the idea of re-establishing the authority of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, which currently governs parts of the West Bank, citing insufficient reforms and US demands for reform.

A political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz, leader of the centrist National Unity Party, traveled to the US despite Netanyahu's opposition as the country steps up efforts to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

While Gantz shares many of Netanyahu's hardline views, he is seen as more open to compromise on critical issues, including increased humanitarian aid deliveries, according to the Associated Press. In the complex landscape of Israel's defense strategy, the dynamics surrounding the conflict in Gaza and the role of key figures such as Gantz emphasize the intricate balancing act that Israel must lead, while the international community's pressure on the Israeli government to stop further offensives is growing.

People mourn as they receive the dead bodies of victims of an Israeli strike on March 5, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza. © Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Meeting in Cairo before Ramadan

International negotiators and a Hamas delegation are meeting in Cairo today in hopes of reaching an agreement to end the conflict in Gaza before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

The meeting of the representatives of the Palestinian extremist organization with representatives of the USA, with the mediation of Qatar and Egypt, is entering the third day of negotiations on a six-week truce. The main topics of the talks include the release of hostages held by Hamas, as well as Palestinians from Israeli prisons, and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israeli delegates have still not entered into negotiations, despite mounting diplomatic pressure to reach a truce before the start of Ramadan. Israeli media reports that the country's delegates boycotted the talks because Hamas did not provide a list of live hostages.

Bassem Naim, one of the leaders of Hamas, told France Press that details of the prisoners were not part of any document or proposal circulated during the negotiations. He states that this is just an excuse by Israel to reject the truce and to launch an action on Rafah symbolically with Ramadan and thus deal a heavy and painful blow to the already exhausted and starving Palestinian civilians.

As the situation in the besieged Palestinian territory worsens, famine threatens, and the humanitarian crisis deepens, Israel faces sharp criticism from its main ally, the United States of America. US Vice President Kamala Harris expressed her deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza during a meeting last night in Washington with a member of the Israeli military cabinet, Benny Ganz.

Likewise, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that its mission in two hospitals in northern Gaza witnessed children starving to death due to lack of food, fuel and medicine. The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that ten children had died of starvation.

In the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, where fighting has been fierce, people report bodies of the dead lying in the streets and homes and shops destroyed. In the attack by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, according to France Presse, about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, died.

In Israeli retaliation, according to today's data from the Hamas Health Ministry, 30,534 people, mostly women and children, died.