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”Victory against Hamas is few weeks away ” – Netanyahu vows to US members of Congress ahead of offensive in Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told a group of US members of Congress that “victory” in Gaza and “getting” Hamas’ senior leadership in the enclave are just “a few weeks away.”

Speaking to a bipartisan group from Congress on Wednesday, March 27, Netanyahu said: “We’ve killed many senior leaders [of Hamas], including number four in Hamas, number three in Hamas. We’ll get number two and number one. That’s victory. Victory is within reach. It’s a few weeks away.”

Hosting the congressional delegation, which the Prime Minister’s Office said was organized by the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said it was “very important to maintain bipartisan support” but “especially in these trying times.”

Netanyahu said that Israel “had no choice” but to move into Rafah as the country’s “very existence is on the line.”

The PM said that since the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel had enjoyed a “remarkable alignment” with the Biden administration but had fundamentally different views on an Israeli move into Rafah.

Israel has faced criticism internationally ahead of its planned offensive on the southern Gaza city, in which more than one million people are currently sheltering.

Netanyahu had earlier told the delegation that displaced Palestinians in Gaza could “just move” out of Rafah and “move with their tents.”

“There’s all of the Gaza Strip north of Rafah,” Netanyahu said. “People move down, they can move up,” the prime minister added.

Disagreements over the impending invasion of Rafah and the worsening humanitarian disaster in Gaza have driven relations between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden to a low.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu cancelled a planned government delegation to Washington in protest of a US abstention from a UN Security Council vote, which had allowed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to pass.

The resolution, proposed by the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, demanded an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza.

In meetings on Monday and Tuesday, senior US officials and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had not reached any agreements on how Israel would move forward with an operation in Rafah, but both sides had agreed to continue the discussions at a working level in the coming days and weeks,

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