Netanyahu Says He Won’t Bow to Pressure to Call Off Rafah Invasion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel insisted on Saturday that Israel would not bow to international pressure to call off its plan for a ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza that is now packed with more than a million Palestinians.

Many of the people now in Rafah are displaced and living in schools, tents or the homes of friends and relatives, part of a desperate search for any safe refuge from Israel’s military campaign, which has dragged on for more than four months. Their lives are a daily struggle to find enough food and water to survive.

“Those who want to prevent us from operating in Rafah are basically telling us: Lose the war,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a news conference in Jerusalem on Saturday evening. “It’s true that there’s a lot of opposition abroad, but this is exactly the moment that we need to say that we won’t be doing a half or a third of the job.”

About the same time as Mr. Netanyahu addressed the news conference, thousands of anti-government protesters filled a central thoroughfare in Tel Aviv — the largest protest against the prime minister in months. They filled the same street where mass protests against Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts to weaken the country’s judiciary riled the nation before the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Calls for an immediate election rose above a din of air horns. Protesters lit a red flare in the middle of a drum circle while others wielding flags stared down half a dozen police officers on horseback.

“The people need to rise up, and the government needs to go,” said one protester, Yuval Lerner, 57. Mr. Lerner said that even before the war, he lost confidence that the government has the nation’s best interest at heart, but “Oct. 7 proved it,” he said.

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