According to media reports, Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant has informed his US counterpart Llyod Austin that there is still no date for a ground offensive against the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Galant contradicted the statement of his Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli newspapers “Haaretz”, “Times of Israel” and the news portal “Axios” all reported, citing informed sources. Netanyahu publicly stated on Monday that the date for the planned offensive in the city of Rafah on the border with Egypt, which is currently overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of refugees, had been set.

USA wants to deter Israel from military action in Rafah

However, Galant reportedly said in a phone call with Austin that Israel was still finalizing plans for the evacuation of the civilian population there. The US government wants to prevent Israel from carrying out a major military operation in Rafah. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expects Israel to remain silent on the issue for the time being.

A meeting with an Israeli delegation is planned for next week to discuss the US side’s concerns about such an operation, Blinken said on Tuesday in Washington. “I do not assume that any measures will be taken before these talks,” he emphasized.

It is still the belief that a major operation in Rafah would be extremely dangerous for civilians.” The Israeli side has not given the US government a date for a Rafah offensive, Blinken said.

Netanyahu clearly remains committed to his intentions

Netanyahu is under pressure from far-right partners in his coalition to invade the city of Rafah. Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote on the X platform, formerly Twitter, earlier this week: “If the prime minister decides to end the war without a broad attack on Rafah, to Hamas decisively, he will have no mandate to continue to serve as head of government.”

Netanyahu then said that the date for an offensive had been set. Yesterday he doubled down and said, according to his office, that the Israeli army would destroy all Hamas battalions. This also applies to the city of Rafah. “No power in the world will stop us.” There are “many forces trying to do this, but it won’t help,” said Netanyahu.