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Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“A large operation in Rafah was (only) possible in the first weeks of the war, but we did not fight and the opportunity is no longer available”.

The former head of the Planning Department in the Israeli General Staff Command, Major General Nimrod Scheffer, ruled out a large-scale Israeli attack in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. 

He said in an interview with Maariv’s 103 FM that such an operation is not possible without a green light from Washington.  

Scheffer, who previously ran the Israeli Aerospace Industries Company, said that the United States “has the (power to make the) decision on Rafah,” not Israel, “and that it is ridiculous for (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) to resist even knowing that we will not fight and that the Americans refuse to do so.” 

Instead, Scheffer predicted limited military operations in Rafah, which, in his view, will not resemble the major attacks launched by Israel in the Gaza Strip in the first five months of the Israeli aggression.

“A large operation in Rafah was (only) possible in the first weeks of the war, but we did not fight and the opportunity is no longer available,” he said. 

Netanyahu ‘Insincere’  

Scheffer also strongly criticized Netanyahu for contradicting the US administration on the issue of the Rafah invasion despite the latter’s unprecedented support to Israel.

The former official, however, said that Netanyhau’s ‘stubbornness’ over the issue is not actually sincere.  “He lies when he sends this message. Army commanders know they will not fight in Rafah if the Americans ask that this does not happen.”

Scheffer went further, stating that Netanyahu is turning Israel into a “pariah” state, which, according to his estimation, just six months ago received tremendous support from the whole world.

Regarding the actual motives behind Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s visit to the United States, Schaeffer said that it is likely an attempt to prevent a US arms embargo or other measures that reduce or slow the flow of weapons.

Northern Front

As for the northern front, Scheffer expects that the cost would be very high if war broke out with Hezbollah, saying that Israel, despite repeated threats, cannot and does not want to fight a war under the current circumstances. 

Scheffer added that if the war breaks out in the north, it will be a great matter with very high costs, calling on Israel to do the right thing, which is to achieve an agreement that spares it such fate.

Netanyahu and cabinet ministers have repeatedly expressed Israel’s willingness to fight an all-out war in Lebanon to eliminate Hezbollah in a repeat of the Gaza war scenario. 

The powerful Lebanese resistance group, however, has responded to the Israeli threats by confirming its readiness for an all-out war if necessary.

(The translation of Scheffer’s comments, which were originally in Hebrew, were taken from Al-Jazeera. They may deviate slightly from their original form.

(PC, AJA) 

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