IDF to attack Rafah during Ramadan if hostage deal not reached: Benny Gantz

Tel Aviv, Feb 22 (IANS): The Israel Minister without portfolio and member of War Cabinet in the government, Benny Gantz has said that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was prepared for a military operation in Rafah during the month of Ramadan if a hostage deal is not successful.

In a statement on Wednesday, Gantz said, "If there is no hostage deal, we will operate during Ramadan."

The Minister, who was the former Chief of Armed staff, however, said that there were signs of a hostage deal coming through.

Gantz said, "There are attempts these days to promote a new framework (for a deal) and there are initial signs that indicate the possibility of moving forward."

He also added that the Israel government would not miss any opportunity to bring the hostages home and added that the IDF was indeed preparing for a military operation in Rafah, which will commence only after the Palestinian civilians are evacuated from the region.

Gantz also said that such an evacuation was necessary for the IDF to move against the Hamas forces in that area.

The US President's top advisor to the Middle East, Brett McGurk, was in the region to hold talks in Egypt and Israel as part of a push to close a deal that could see a pause in the fighting by the start of the month-long Ramadan holiday.

A top delegation of Hamas led by its political head, Ismail Haniyeh, is in Cairo for mediatory talks for a ceasefire during the Holy month of Ramadan, which is likely to commence on March 10.




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Title: IDF to attack Rafah during Ramadan if hostage deal not reached: Benny Gantz

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