Gaza war: Netanyahu vows to defeat Hamas in Rafah despite US arms threat

Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Israel can “stand alone” after the US warned that arms supplies could be halted if it orders a full-scale attack on Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of people have already fled the southern city after the Israeli army launched a “limited” operation on Monday.

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned against the operation, saying it crosses a “red line”.

But Mr Netanyahu dismissed the US warning and said Israel would continue to fight.

“If we must… we stand alone I said we will fight with our claws if necessary,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu also invoked the 1948 war, in which a coalition of Arab states attacked the newly formed state of Israel, to reject American warnings

“In the War of Independence 76 years ago, we were against many,” he said “We had no weapons. There was an arms embargo against Israel, but with great spirit, heroism and unity among us – we won.”

Despite Netanyahu’s comments, his government has been under pressure since the US dropped 1,800,2,000,907 kg of bombs and 1,700,500 pound bombs for fear that they could cause civilian casualties in Rafah.

Biden went even further in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, saying that if the attack continues, he will continue to freeze the supply of artillery shells and other weapons.

Netanyahu’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, dismissed the US warnings, saying that Israel’s “enemies and … best friends” should understand that his country “cannot be defeated”.

“We will stay strong, we will achieve our goals,” he added.

The comments came hours after the United Nations said more than 80,000 people had fled Rafah since Monday, amid continued gunfire and Israeli tanks advancing into nearby residential areas.

The UN also warned that more than a million people still sheltering in the city lack food and fuel because they cannot get aid through nearby pedestrian crossings.

Israeli forces seized and closed the Rafah border crossing with Egypt at the start of the operation, while the UN says it is too dangerous for its workers and trucks to access the reopened Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel.

Israeli forces said they were carrying out “targeted attacks” against the remaining Hamas elements in the city. However, the Israeli government refused to rule out a full-scale attack, prompting Biden to warn against equipping it with military equipment.

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White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Mr Biden does not believe A “strike against Rafah” would further Israel’s cause of defeating Hamas.

“The continued defeat of Hamas will certainly remain Israel’s goal, and we share that goal,” Mr. Kirby said.

“The argument that we are somehow walking away from Israel or that we don’t want to help them defeat Hamas is simply not true,” he said.

According to Palestinian media, two people were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Thursday afternoon in the neighborhood of Rafah al-Jneineh – one of the eastern areas where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ordered residents to evacuate before settling in the countryside. . operation started on monday night.

Three more people were reportedly killed in an airstrike in a nearby area of ​​Brazil, which is not in the evacuation zone but is next to the Egyptian border.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), banned as terrorist organizations by Israel, the United States and other countries, said they were targeting Israeli troops with mortar bombs and anti-tank missiles on the eastern flank.

Hamas also said it blew up tunnels trapped under three Israeli military vehicles east of Rafah. The IDF said three of its soldiers were slightly injured in the explosion.

At least five people died overnight when an Israeli strike hit a family’s home in western Tal al-Sultan. Among them were three children, one of whom was one year old, doctors said.

Hopes for peace deal fade
Meanwhile, hopes of a peace deal – which looked close earlier in the week before Israel said it wouldn’t happen – appeared to be fading. Both Israeli and Hamas delegations left for indirect talks in Cairo on Thursday.

After seven months of war in Gaza, Israel says victory is impossible without capturing the city of Rafah and destroying the last remaining Hamas battalions.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to root out Hamas in response to the group’s attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, which Israeli officials said killed about 1,200 people and took another 252 hostages.

More than 34,900 people have died in Gaza since then, according to the Hamas Health Ministry.

According to Israel, 128 hostages are missing, of which 36 are believed to have died.

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