Intense phase of war with Hamas about to end - Netanyahu

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Intense phase of war with Hamas about to end - Netanyahu
Netanyahu at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre on June 8 in Ramat Gan, Israel.

CNN | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the “intense phase of the war with Hamas (in Gaza) is about to end,” and that the military’s focus could then shift to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

“It doesn’t mean that the war is going to end, but the war in its current stage is going to end in Rafah. This is true. We will continue mowing the grass later,” Netanyahu told Channel 14 Television in his first one-on-one interview with local Israeli media since October 7.

He also said that he is ready to make “a partial deal” with Hamas to return some hostages, while reiterating his position that the war will still continue after a ceasefire “to achieve the goal of eliminating” Hamas.

“I’m not ready to give that up,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu added that “after the end of the intense phase, we will have the possibility to shift some of the power north, and we will do it.”

“First of all, for protection purposes, and secondly, to bring our residents home as well. If we can do it politically, that would be great.

If not, we will do it in another way, but we will bring everyone back home – all the residents of the north and the south,” he added.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East, has been carrying out deadly attacks from southern Lebanon targeting areas in northern Israel since October 8, the day after the Hamas attacks on Israel.

Israel has responded to Hezbollah’s attacks with strikes that have killed Hezbollah militants, among them senior commanders.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from their homes in northern Israel due to ongoing conflict.

Netanyahu was also asked in the interview if his solution to ending the conflict with Hezbollah was via agreement or war.

The prime minister responded, “Look, if there is an agreement, it will be an agreement according to our terms. Our terms are not ending the war, leaving Gaza, and leaving Hamas intact. I refuse to leave Hamas intact. We need to eliminate them.”

Israel launched its war in Gaza following the Hamas attacks of October 7, when militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages.

Since then, the Israeli campaign has killed more than 37,000 people, according to the ministry of health in Gaza.

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