Smotrich: ‘Invade Rafah With Or Without American Consent’

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Israeli Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich urged for heightened military pressure on Hamas during a recent party meeting, asserting that such pressure is crucial to coax Hamas into accepting a deal.

Initiating his address, Smotrich emphasized the current state of conflict, stating, “We find ourselves in the midst of warfare. Our troops are presently engaged in combat in Khan Yunis, directly confronting the militants of Hamas-ISIS, while simultaneously defending against Hezbollah in the north. Additionally, our forces are actively operating in Judea and Samaria. We are battling those who seek our destruction, and in times of war, we must act decisively to maintain our unity, which we have rekindled since Simchas Torah.”

He emphasized the need for unified action, asserting, “While there will come a time for inquiries, introspection, and assigning responsibility, and while there will be opportunities for protests, criticisms, and electoral campaigns to regain trust, now is the time to fight for our collective future. We must exert all efforts to secure the release of our abductees. Divisive and aggressive behavior only undermines Israel’s security.”

Regarding diplomatic efforts, Smotrich expressed skepticism, stating, “I cautioned against sending delegations to Qatar and Egypt while Hamas remains committed to prolonging the conflict. Regrettably, we continue to concede ground, emboldening Sinwar to make increasingly unreasonable demands.”

He elaborated on Hamas’ demands, highlighting the danger posed by the proposition to dismantle the Nitzarim corridor and relocate hundreds of thousands of Gazans, including terrorists, to the northern Strip. He warned of the repercussions for residents of Sderot and all Israeli citizens, emphasizing the detrimental impact on efforts to demilitarize Gaza. He condemned any endorsement of such proposals as a betrayal of Israel’s security.

In Smotrich’s view, a significant escalation in military pressure, including potential action in Rafah with or without American approval, is necessary to compel Hamas to relent, eliminate Sinwar, and secure the release of all abductees.

Smotrich also addressed broader challenges, lamenting a simultaneous political and security assault aimed at establishing a Palestinian state within Israel’s borders. He attributed this to a coalition of leftist factions, media influence, international pressures, and elements within the security apparatus and government. He warned against repeating past mistakes, citing historical precedents such as the events of October 7.

Furthermore, he decried the imposition of sanctions on Israeli settlers in Judea and Samaria, pledging staunch resistance to such measures.

Regarding recent developments in US policy toward Judea and Samaria, Smotrich welcomed a reduction in sanctions on residents of the region but stressed that further action is required to fully address the issue.

Turning to the contentious topic of chareidi conscription, Smotrich addressed the chareidi community directly, urging them not to be swayed by what he called extremist elements seeking to disrupt their integration into Israeli society. “I have an important message for the Chareidi public: The pictures you saw yesterday in Jerusalem do not reflect what the Israeli public thinks of you. Do not let a handful of extreme political activists push you out of integration and influence in Israeli society. They do not represent any stream in Israeli society. Israeli society recoils when it sees these displays of brute force that seek to destroy and demolish while the people of Israel are at war. These people do not represent Israelis. They do not represent the secular. They do not represent the IDF soldiers. They do not represent the unity that all of Israel gathered around.”

{ Israel}



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