Netanyahu ahead of Rafah ground invasion: 'Victory is within reach'

Israel will provide "safe passage" for civilians to leave the area, he said.

As Israel prepares to launch a ground assault in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that "victory is within reach."

"We're going to do it. We're going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we're going to do it," Netanyahu said during an interview with "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl, airing Sunday.

Watch the interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on "This Week," airing Sunday, Feb. 11, on ABC.

More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, Rafah appears to be the Israeli military's next target as it continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu said Friday he had directed the Israeli Defense Forces to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from Rafah ahead of this ground invasion. The U.S. has said it would not support Israel sending its military into the city -- where many Gaza residents have fled for safety -- if Israel does not consider the potential impact on the estimated 1.4 million people in that area.

"This I agree with the Americans," Netanyahu told Karl. "We're going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave."

When asked where the Palestinians are supposed to go, Netanyahu told Karl that they are "working out a detailed plan."

"We're not cavalier about this," he said. "This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm's way. It's part of Hamas' effort to keep them in harm's way."

The U.N. and other aid organizations have expressed concern over where civilians would go if Rafah, which the IDF previously designated a safe zone, becomes the next target in Israel's war against Hamas.

Netanyahu pushed back against calls for Israel not to enter Rafah.

"Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war. Keep Hamas there," he said.

Netanyahu has not provided details or a timeline on a ground invasion in Rafah, the southernmost governorate of Gaza, bordering Egypt.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to Israeli officials.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 28,064 people have been killed, and 67,611 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.