Israeli cabinet set to OK Rafah plan amid ceasefire protests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he will convene the cabinet early this week to "approve the operational plans for action in Rafah," with domestic pressure on the government to bring the captives home mounting.

Despite the concerns, including from key ally the United States, Netanyahu signaled that the expected push had not been abandoned, adding that "at the beginning of the week, I will convene the cabinet to approve the operational plans for action in Rafah, including the evacuation of the civilian population from there."

"Only a combination of military pressure and firm negotiations will lead to the release of our hostages, the elimination of Hamas and the achievement of all the war's goals," he added.

Domestic pressure on the government to bring the captives home has also steadily mounted, with thousands gathering in Tel Aviv Feb. 24 night at what has come to be known as "Hostages Square" to demand swifter action.

"We keep telling you: Bring them back to us! And no matter how," said Avivit Yablonka, 45, whose sister Hanan was kidnapped on Oct. 7 last year.

Anti-government protesters were also out in Tel Aviv, blocking streets and calling for Netanyahu's government to step down as authorities deployed water cannon and mounted officers in a bid to disperse them.

Meanwhile, Israeli media yesterday reported that mediators are making progress on an agreement for a weekslong cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and the release of dozens of hostages held in Gaza as well as Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel's war cabinet met to discuss the proposal late on Feb. 24, but there was no official word on what they had decided.

Several Israeli media outlets, citing unnamed officials,...

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