Netanyahu is “determined” to stage an assault: even in spite of Biden

Netanyahu is “determined” to stage an assault: even in spite of Biden

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Benjamin Netanyahu is “determined” to storm Rafah, despite Joe Biden’s admonitions. Israel’s prime minister says he sees no alternative to a ground attack on the southern Gaza city, in a sign of growing disagreement with the US president.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he remains determined to carry out a ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where many displaced Palestinians are sheltering, despite concerns from US President Joe Biden, The Guardian writes.

Netanyahu told lawmakers on Tuesday that he had made it “very clear” to the US president “that we are determined to complete the liquidation of these battalions in Rafah, and there is no other way to do this other than to act on the ground.”

After the two leaders spoke Monday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US believes storming Rafah would be a “mistake” and that Israel could achieve its military goals through other means.

In his comments on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would wait to hear proposals from the US “out of respect for the president” on ways to protect civilians in Rafah before ordering the operation.

But he said he saw no alternative to a ground offensive if Israel was to achieve its goal of destroying Hamas.

“We are debating with the Americans about the need to enter Rafah, not about the need to eliminate Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli officials said Rafah, on the border with Egypt, is Hamas’s last major stronghold in Gaza. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians – more than half of Gaza’s population – have taken refuge in Rafah, fleeing fighting elsewhere in the territory, The Guardian notes.

The White House has said it will not support the Rafah operation until the Israelis present a credible plan to ensure the safety of Palestinian civilians.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden asked Netanyahu to send a high-level group of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington for a full discussion of the planned operation in Rafah.

Details are still being worked out, but the meeting will likely take place early next week, she said, adding that the White House has called on Israel to do more to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.

The war began when Hamas militants invaded Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli estimates, The Guardian reports.

Almost 32,000 people are confirmed to have died in the Israeli retaliatory strike, with thousands more feared dead in the rubble, according to Palestinian health officials.

Late Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike on a major roundabout killed 30 people from groups that had been formed to allow aid trucks to enter Gaza City, media reported.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the US said Israeli restrictions on humanitarian aid entering Gaza could amount to the war crime of deliberate starvation.

“The extent of Israel’s continued restrictions on humanitarian aid entering Gaza, coupled with its continued fighting, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of warfare, which is a war crime,” said Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Rights person.

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