free stats

Israel ready to stand alone in Gaza, Netanyahu says in veiled Biden rebuff over weapons delay

3

Israelis are ready to fight with their “fingernails”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday in a thinly veiled rebuff to US President Joe Biden’s warning that arms supplies could be withheld over a planned operation in Gaza.

Israel’s long-threatened move against Rafah, where it says thousands of Hamas fighters and potentially dozens of the hostages they seized in an October 7 attack are ensconced among more than a million war-displaced Palestinians, began this week with the evacuation of some civilians followed by limited incursions.

The Biden administration has said it cannot support a major Rafah invasion in the absence of what it would deem a credible plan to safeguard non-combatants. Israel has said victory in the seven-month-old conflict is impossible without taking Rafah.

The Netanyahu government had kept silent over reports that Washington was holding back a shipment of aerial bombs – until, on Wednesday, Biden went public with the measure, saying it was part of a US warning to the Israelis not to “go into Rafah”.

US President Joe Biden (left) comforts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference in Tel Aviv in October 2023. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO/dpa

“If we must stand alone, we shall stand alone,” Netanyahu said without referring specifically to the US announcement.

“If we must, we shall fight with our fingernails,” he said in a video statement. “But we have much more than our fingernails, and with that strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we shall be victorious.”

The conservative prime minister’s comments were echoed by the other two voting members of his war cabinet, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and centrist former defence minister Benny Gantz – although none said explicitly that a deeper sweep of Rafah would be ordered.

“I turn to Israel’s enemies as well as to our best of friends and say – the State of Israel cannot be subdued,” Gallant said in a speech. “We will stand strong, we will achieve our goals – we will hit Hamas, we will hit [Lebanon’s] Hezbollah, and we will achieve security.”

Gantz voiced appreciation for what the Israeli military has described as unprecedented US support and supplies in the war.

“Israel has a duty, in terms of national security and morality, to keep fighting in order to return our hostages and end the Hamas threat against southern Israel,” he said on X.

“And the United States has a moral and strategic duty to extend to Israel the tools that are necessary for this mission.”

Relatives and supporters of hostages taken captive by Palestinian militants in Gaza carry an empty casket during a rally and memorial service near the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on Thursday. Photo: AFP

In parallel to the public dispute, the United States has been trying to shepherd along Egyptian- and Qatari-mediated talks between Israel and Hamas that would free some hostages.

Those have stumbled on Hamas’s demand for an end to the Gaza war. Israel is willing to enter a ceasefire only.

Negotiators on Thursday left the latest meetings in Cairo without a deal, and Israel said it would proceed with its planned Rafah operation.

The chief Israeli military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said in a briefing that the armed forces had sufficient munitions for Rafah “and other operations that are planned”.

Source

Comments are closed.