Gallant: IDF will ‘soon address’ last Hamas brigade in Rafah

Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces will soon attack the last Hamas terror brigade in the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city of Rafah, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on April 2.

Gallant said Hamas has ceased to function as a terrorist group in “most parts” of Gaza. “Their commanders are hiding in tunnels, they have lost command and control capabilities, the battalion frameworks in most parts of the Strip have ceased to function.

“The Hamas brigade in Rafah, however, is still standing, with its four battalions. We will address this soon,” said Gallant, according to a Defense Ministry readout shared with the press.

The ministry said Gallant provided committee members with a briefing focused on “the IDF’s progress in fighting and dismantling Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the various efforts to ensure the return of the hostages held by Hamas, and the IDF’s counterterrorism operations.”

Vowing to bring home all 134 hostages held by Hamas, Gallant explained that the IDF and the political echelon regard the persistent military pressure on the terrorist group as the “main and most significant element” contributing to their eventual release.

“The advanced stage we have reached in dismantling Hamas and the information that we have gained from terrorists empower us at the negotiation table and enable us to make difficult decisions,” he said.

Many of the hostages still in the hands of Hamas in Gaza after 178 days are believed to be held in Rafah. Two captives were rescued from the city by Israeli special forces in a daring operation earlier this year.

Gallant also stressed that Israel is “currently in a multi-front war; we see evidence of this every day, including over the last few days.

“We operate everywhere, every day, in order to prevent our enemies from gaining strength and to make it clear to anyone who threatens us, all over the Middle East, that the price for such action will be a big one,” the minister warned.

On March 31, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech that “there is no victory without entering Rafah,” adding that the ground operation there “will take time, but it will happen.”

The United States and Israel agreed during a virtual meeting on April 1 that Hamas must be defeated in Rafah, according to the White House.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of increased tensions between Israel and the Biden administration in recent weeks over Jerusalem’s plans for a full-scale incursion into the last Hamas stronghold.

Politico reported last month that Biden is considering conditioning some military aid to Israel if it moves forward with the battle.

Around 64 percent of Israelis support expanding the military operations against Hamas to Rafah, even at the cost of a confrontation with the U.S., according to a poll published by Direct Polls earlier this week.