Netanyahu decides to postpone military offensive in Rafah: Public broadcaster

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone the ground invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, following an unprecedented retaliatory attack by Iran on Israel, the country's public broadcaster reported on Sunday. 

Israel has waged a military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border attack led by Hamas, in which nearly 1,200 people were killed.

More than 33,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, besides mass destruction and conditions of famine.

Claiming it to be “the last stronghold of Hamas,” Netanyahu has insisted on invading Rafah, where around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have taken refuge from the incessant attacks.

Despite growing international outcry over the invasion plan, the prime minister last week said a date had been set for the offensive.

"Today I received a detailed report on the talks in Cairo, we are constantly working to achieve our goals, first and foremost the release of all our hostages and achieving a complete victory over Hamas," Netanyahu said.

"This victory requires entry into Rafah and the elimination of the terrorist battalions there. It will happen - there is a date."

According to the public broadcaster, the postponement of the ground operation came after consultations with the Israeli security apparatus.

Earlier on Sunday, Finance Minister Avigdor Smotrich called for invading Rafah and imposing control over the entire Gaza Strip.

The postponement comes after Iran launched around 300 missiles and drones towards Israel late Saturday evening. Tel Aviv claimed to have intercepted most of them.

The unprecedented attack was in response to an April 1 missile attack targeting the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus, which killed several of Iranian military commanders.​​

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