Netanyahu vows to go ahead with Rafah offensive with or without deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will press ahead with an offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah with or without a deal.

Netanyahu made the remarks on Tuesday during a meeting with relatives of hostages and bereaved families.

He said, "The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question."

The prime minister expressed his determination to "enter Rafah" and "eliminate the Hamas battalions" to "achieve the total victory."

His show of defiance comes as talks are underway over a pause in fighting and the release of hostages held by the Islamic group Hamas. Negotiations are mediated by countries including Egypt.

The Hamas side is reportedly discussing a deal that was proposed in Egypt on Monday. The group has been demanding a complete ceasefire as a condition for the release of hostages.

The Israeli military is gearing up for a ground operation in Rafah. But Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday that the country could suspend the plan if it reached a hostage deal with Hamas.

His remark drew a backlash from right-wing members in the government. Observers point out that this prompted Netanyahu's show of defiance.

Qatar-based satellite television Al Jazeera cited a Palestinian political analyst as saying that Netanyahu's latest comments trample all ceasefire talks.