Netanyahu says he will press forward with military campaign in Rafah

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel would press forward with its military campaign into Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, amid rising international pressure.

A growing chorus of voices have joined in calls for Israel not to enter Rafah, one of the last relatively safe areas, where 1.5 million people have sought shelter.

"We will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm's way," Netanyahu said in a video address to a conference of the pro-Israel AIPAC organization in Washington, D.C.

Netanyahu's comments came as European Union leaders plan to urge Israel not to launch a ground operation in Rafah, according to draft conclusions of an upcoming summit.

"The European Council urges the Israeli government to refrain from a ground operation in Rafah, where well over a million Palestinians are currently seeking safety from the fighting and access to humanitarian assistance," according to a draft text of conclusions of a summit seen by Reuters.

The text will require the approval of all the EU's 27 national leaders to be adopted at the summit on March 21 and 22.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday that Netanyahu was "hurting Israel more than helping" by conducting the war in a way contrary to the country's values.

(Reporting by Emily Rose; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)