Netanyahu says Israel will protect itself even if it has to do it by itself

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters/File

,- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed in a strong speech on Sunday that his country will defend itself even if it had to stand alone. This statement coincides with growing international pressure calling for Israel to halt its military operation in Gaza, especially in light of its planned invasion of Rafah.

At the Holocaust Remembrance Day opening event, Netanyahu stressed to the crowd Israel's steadfast position against its enemies. He declared, "Even if Israel is made to stand alone, we shall keep hitting our adversaries hard until we win. We shall bear up against human evil even if we must stand alone."

Netanyahu made his passionate statements before Israel decided on Monday to order Palestinians living in some areas of Rafah to leave. This order came after the Defence Minister gave the forces in Gaza instructions to get ready for "intense action" in the city "in the near future." Rafah has become a major area where Hamas is thought to have reassembled after Israel's massive operations in the northern portion of the strip, uprooting over a million Palestinians.

Concurrently, difficulties have arisen in Egyptian talks aiming at arranging a ceasefire in exchange for hostages between Israel and Hamas. Extremist elements inside Netanyahu's coalition are opposing the planned deal, which might result in the release of up to 33 Israeli hostages in return for an end to hostilities. These factions push for giving an invasion into Rafah first priority in order to destroy Hamas.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague received a severe warning from Netanyahu as well over its inquiry into the Gaza fighting. Reports indicating that Israeli commanders and officials may soon be subject to arrest warrants, Netanyahu warned against undermining the foundations of justice and international law. He underlined Israel's natural right to self-defense and the ICC's founding in reaction to the Holocaust.

Israel's changing diplomatic environment is reflected in the mounting pressure on Netanyahu to use restraint; some of its closest friends are advising prudence. On a recent phone conversation with Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden restated his opposition to a possible Israeli invasion into Rafah. The Biden administration has underlined the need of safeguarding people in Rafah and anticipates Israel to present a precise strategy in this regard.

The ICC said it was against commenting on ongoing investigations when asked for specifics on the potential for arrest warrants. Still, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan reaffirmed the office's dedication to looking into purported crimes committed in the State of Palestine and underlined responsibility for anyone who broke the law.

As seen by earlier investigations into its activities in occupied Palestinian territory, Israel is not immune to criticism despite being a non-member state of the International Criminal Court. Following an extensive preliminary investigation by former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, it was determined that war crimes were being perpetrated throughout the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Her term, which concluded in 2021, was not marked by any arrests, though.

War crime accusations have been levelled against both Israel and Hamas in the confrontation that began on October 7 after a terrorist attack that claimed lives and took captives. The Gaza Ministry of Health has recorded numerous deaths among Palestinians in Gaza since Israel's following military response.

The area is still quite unpredictable as long as hostilities exist and diplomatic initiatives are made. The terrible human cost of the fighting emphasises how urgently peace and stability for all parties concerned must be given top priority in any long-term settlement.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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