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Benjamin Netanyahu: “Complete victory is our goal, and complete victory is within reach”

Photo: Abir Sultan / EPA

A confident announcement in the face of massive anti-government protests: In the war against the radical Islamic Hamas, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees his country only "a few weeks" away from a "complete victory" with an offensive in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Even an agreement on a ceasefire would "delay a little bit" such a military operation, but it will happen, Netanyahu told the US television station "CBS."

According to the White House, negotiators have now found a basis for understanding for a possible agreement.

"If we don't reach an agreement, we will do it anyway," Netanyahu continued.

"It must be done, because complete victory is our goal, and complete victory is within reach - not in months, but in a few weeks when we begin the operation."

More than a million people have fled to the city of Rafah, which borders Egypt, since the Israeli military offensive began.

The Israeli army says it is preparing a ground offensive there to destroy the "last remaining Hamas bastions" and free hostages suspected to be there.

Netanyahu had previously reiterated his plan to send Israeli soldiers to the city of Rafah, despite widespread concerns.

"Early next week I will convene the cabinet to approve the operational plans for Rafah, including the evacuation of the civilian population," said the prime minister.

Meanwhile, there were positive signals from the USA regarding a future agreement in an effort to achieve a ceasefire and the release of the Israeli hostages.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN that the representatives of Israel, the United States, Egypt and Qatar had agreed "on the outlines of a hostage agreement for a temporary ceasefire" at their meeting in Paris.

As the Egyptian television station "Al-Kahera News" reported, negotiations between "experts from Egypt, Qatar, the United States and Israel" and Hamas representatives continued on Sunday in Doha.

An Israeli delegation led by the head of the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad, David Barnea, held talks in Paris on Friday to explore possibilities for a new ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In return, Hamas is demanding, among other things, the release of imprisoned Palestinians from Israeli prisons and Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In November, more than a hundred Israeli hostages were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt.

Meanwhile, there is massive pressure on the government in Israel to call for a ceasefire with Hamas and release the Israeli hostages from their grip.

Thousands of people gathered in central Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to urge the government to reach an agreement.

“We keep telling you: Bring them back to us, no matter how,” demanded Avivit Jablonka.

The 45-year-old's brother, Chanan Jablonka, was kidnapped by the Islamists on October 7th during the Hamas massacre at the Nova music festival in southern Israel.

Thousands of people also called for the resignation of Netanyahu's right-wing religious government at protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In Tel Aviv, the protest participants blocked numerous streets and the authorities used mounted police and water cannons against the demonstrators.

"They are not choosing the right path for us - whether it is about the economy or about peace with our neighbors," said 54-year-old entrepreneur Moti Kuschner, referring to the government.

"It looks like they never want to end the war."

The war was triggered by the major attack on Israel on October 7th by Hamas, which the EU and the USA classify as a terrorist organization.

Islamist fighters committed atrocities primarily against civilians.

According to Israeli information, around 1,160 people were killed and around 250 hostages were taken to the Gaza Strip.

The declared goal is the destruction of Hamas

According to Israeli information, 130 hostages are still in the Palestinian territory and 31 of them are dead.

In response to the Hamas attack, Israel has since taken massive military action in the Gaza Strip, with the declared aim of destroying Hamas.

According to Hamas figures, which cannot be independently verified, more than 29,600 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since then.