Netanyahu says ‘intense phase’ of Rafah fighting ending, but Gaza war will continue

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the Israeli military's heavy fighting against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is nearly over.

Netanyahu, in his first interview with an Israeli network since the war with Hamas broke out on October 7, said troops would soon be deployed to the northern border with Lebanon but for "defensive purposes."

"The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end," Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel's pro-Netanyahu Channel 14.

"It doesn't mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah," he said.

"After the end of the intense phase, we will be able to redeploy some forces to the north, and we will do that. Primarily for defensive purposes but also to bring the (displaced) residents back home," Netanyahu said.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have been displaced from northern Israel which has seen near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants since the war in Gaza began.

"The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza," he said.

"To say that we are going to make Hamas disappear is to throw sand in people's eyes," Hagari said.

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