Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with representatives of hostages' families and bereaved families from the Heroism forum and the Hope forum in Jerusalem. April 30, 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday to “finish the mission” in the southern Gaza border city of Rafah, where at least four Hamas terror battalions and its leadership are preparing to defend their iron-fisted control over the enclave.

Speaking in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem with representatives of hostages’ families and bereaved families from the Heroism Forum and the Hope (Tikva) Forum, Netanyahu pledged to continue the war until all of its goals are achieved.


“The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” Netanyahu told the gathering.

“We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there – with or without a deal — in order to achieve the total victory.”

The gathering represented families who have lost members abducted by Hamas, and/or members who were killed in action while fighting in Gaza.

The group urged the prime minister to continue achieving the goals of the war and to withstand the international pressure.

Boaz Miran, the brother of the abductee Amri Miran who was “featured” in a video released by Hamas in recent days, said in a statement issued by the Tikva Forum families in Tel Aviv that “for four months there has been no military pressure on Hamas – and instead there is a shuffling in the fighting due to the indecisiveness of the cabinet.

“On the other hand, we are witnessing increasing concessions to Hamas’ demands,” Miran noted.

Tali Goili, mother of Yassam special forces police officer Ran Goili who fought in Kibbutz Alumim and whose body was apparently kidnapped to Gaza, said: “Entering Rafah is the only thing that can bring back all the abductees – the living and the dead.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expected to arrive from Jordan on Tuesday night on his final stop in the region, is expected to be the latest in an endless parade of international figures determined to pressure Netanyahu into stopping the war and surrendering to Hamas, albeit in politely couched language.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sjournat, who is also visiting Israel, told Netanyahu that “an attack in Rafah is a bad idea that will not solve anything in the fight against Hamas,” a French diplomat told Reuters.

According to the report, Sejourna said in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem that “there is too much uncertainty regarding humanitarian issues.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has also been clear that the IDF must continue its drive to destroy Hamas, rescue the hostages and ensure that Gaza never again poses a threat to the Jewish State.

In a statement posted Tuesday on the X social media platform, Herzog said he has repeatedly told leaders from around the world over the past several months that Israel has the “full right and duty to free our hostages and defend our citizens.

“The state of Israel, our military, and security forces are working tirelessly to achieve these goals, operating totally in accordance with international law,” Herzog emphasized.

“I unequivocally object to any attempt to abuse international legal institutions – including the ICC – to deny the State of Israel its basic rights. We have an independent and robust judicial system that knows how to investigate as needed.

“Such actions will only serve to tie the hands of all free and democratic nations in the fight against terror, and must be strongly opposed.”

Herzog’s statement referenced a case currently before the International Criminal Court at The Hague set to decide on a petition to issue arrest warrants against Israel’s prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of general staff.

Israel’s Justice Ministry has been preparing for the possibility of such a lawsuit since the beginning of the Gaza war.

South Africa initiated the petition in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on December 29, 2023, accusing Israel of perpetrating genocide through its war against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization.

The petition claims that Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant and LTG Herzi Halevi respectively are guilty of alleged war crimes stemming from Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza — a war started by Hamas on October 7, 2023, in hopes of annihilating the Jewish State.

At least 1,200 people were tortured, mutilated, raped, burned alive and slaughtered on that one day alone by the thousands of Hamas-led terrorists who invaded southern Israel. Nearly two dozen Jewish villages and military bases were decimated and 253 people were abducted and dragged into Gaza captivity.

Of those, 110 hostages were freed in November in a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States — but as it has always done, Hamas violated the agreement, reneging on the final hostage release and returning to the conflict.

At least 34 of the 133 hostages still being held are no longer living, according to Israeli intelligence and Hamas has told mediators that it “does not know” where most of the hostages are. The terror group has consistently refused every temporary ceasefire/hostage release proposal since.

Meanwhile, arguments for and against the charges have been submitted by both countries and by allies providing amicus curie (friend of the court) briefs and testimony. But unlike the ICJ, which is concerned with states, the ICC investigates individuals.

Israel’s Justice Ministry has been preparing for such a possibility since the beginning of the Gaza war.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.