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Israel Transitions from Memorial Day to Independence Day as Leaders Renew Gaza Victory Pledge

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JERUSALEM, Israel – A siren sounded for two minutes Monday morning as Israel commemorated its Memorial Day to honor the nation's war dead and those who died in terror attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the Rafah operation in Gaza and shared what wounded soldiers from the war told him.

"All of them (the wounded soldiers that he visited in hospital), without exception, told me – even the amputees – they told me the spirit of the people lifts them up. Keep going until victory and that's how we will do it. The spirit of the people, with God's help, will continue to lift us up in the fateful challenges that are still ahead of us and that we had in our 76 years of independence," Netanyahu declared.

On the ground, about 300,000 Gazans have fled Rafah. some have escaped to safe zones established by the Israel Defense Forces to get them out of harm's way. 

The IDF has pushed deeper into the city, the last major stronghold of Hamas.

So far, it's using targeted strikes, without launching a major invasion. this may address President Joe Biden's threat to halt American weapons shipments to Israel, if the invasion takes place.

Israel also pounded northern Gaza, where some Hamas terrorists have regrouped after the IDF cleared that area months ago.

Meanwhile, Hamas has continued to fire rockets at southern Israel, including one that struck a playground in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva.

According to The Washington Post, the U.S. also promised to share intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, if Israel stops its Rafah operation.

Some question why the U.S. wouldn't share such vital intelligence anyway with its strongest Middle East ally.    

slider img 2U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken kept up his criticism of the Rafah operation this weekend.

"Going into Rafah, even to deal with these remaining battalions, especially in the absence of a plan for civilians, risks doing terrible harm to civilians and not solving the problem, a problem that both of us want to solve, which is making sure Hamas cannot again govern Gaza," Blinken said.

Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) pushed back against the administration.

He told ABC News, "For us to step in and say 'no, you can't go into Rafah and finish the job,' I think it's tantamount to an arms embargo.  It's also very similar for us to say in World War Two, 'Hey. like (in) my dad's generation, you can invade all the way up to Berlin, but you can't go into Berlin to finish the job.'"

Despite the U.S. debate, on the eve of its 76th Independence Day, Israel pledges to push ahead until Hamas is finally defeated.

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