Netanyahu’s war cabinet approves “calibrated expansion” of Rafah invasion to appease U.S.
By Richard Brown // May 14, 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war cabinet has reportedly greenlit a "calibrated expansion" of Israel's operations within Rafah, a densely populated city in southern Gaza.

This decision follows President Joe Biden's ultimatum to stop supplying offensive weaponry to Israel should the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invade the city.

On the morning of May 7, IDF tanks and troops entered the eastern precincts of Rafah, seizing control of the border crossing connecting Gaza and Egypt, and initiating airstrikes. Axios reported on Friday, May 10, that an "expansion of the area of operation" was endorsed, drawing insights from three informed sources. Israeli media also corroborated the IDF's broadening operational scope.

Sources within the Israeli government and military claimed that the expanded operation aligns with Biden's outlined limits. Another source expressed concern over potential misinterpretation of American warnings. Notably, the cabinet mandated Israeli negotiators to persist in hostage release negotiations. However, National Security Minister Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich dissented from this directive.

In response to Biden's threat to curtail weapon supplies, Netanyahu affirmed Israel's readiness to "stand alone" in its conflict with Gaza.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the suspension of a weapons shipment due to apprehensions regarding Rafah. The city, currently sheltering 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from bombarded northern enclaves, remains a focal point of contention.

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Reuters reported IDF's capture of the primary route between Rafah's eastern and western sectors, while Hamas claimed resistance against Israeli tank forces near an eastern mosque. The IDF posted on X the casualties among Hamas militants during "face-to-face" encounters near the border crossing and the discovery of several subterranean tunnels. (Related: Israeli invasion of Rafah under way following evacuation order on 100,000 residents.)

Palestinians flee amid looming Israeli takeover of Rafah

Hundreds of thousands of weary and displaced Palestinians have dismantled their tents and gathered their belongings in Rafah, embarking on yet another journey of displacement. The closure of the main hospital has exacerbated the plight of those suffering from malnutrition, illnesses and injuries, with limited medical care available. Aid workers, facing shortages of fuel and supplies, are working tirelessly to assist a population weary from seven months of conflict.

The seizure of the nearby border crossing with Egypt by Israel and the looming possibility of a full-scale invasion of Rafah have plunged the overcrowded city into panic and chaos.

Families, displaced multiple times by the ongoing conflict, are uncertain about where to seek refuge: in the partially destroyed city of Khan Younis, in areas further north or in an Israeli-designated "humanitarian zone" within Gaza, already overwhelmed with residents and lacking adequate resources.

Over the past three days, streams of people on foot or in vehicles have congested the roads out of Rafah in a chaotic evacuation, with vehicles piled high with belongings. Amidst this exodus, Israeli bombardment continues, adding to the sense of urgency and fear.

"The war has reached even our schools. There is nowhere safe," remarked Nuzhat Jarjer, whose family evacuated from a United Nations-run school that was turned into a shelter in Rafah.

Before the conflict, Rafah had a population of 250,000, which swelled to 1.4 million as displaced individuals sought refuge. Every available space was occupied by tent camps, and families crowded into schools or homes with relatives, relying heavily on aid organizations for sustenance.

Israel issued evacuation orders for eastern parts of Rafah, home to approximately 100,000 residents, and subsequently deployed tanks to seize the Rafah crossing with Egypt, effectively closing it.

Amid the uncertainty, confusion prevails. Residents, fearing further assaults, have fled districts beyond those initially designated for evacuation.

Watch this video of a family describing their flight from a shelter in Rafah to the bombed out city of Khan Yunis.

This video is from the AllTheWorldsAStage channel on

More related stories:

Israel captures Rafah border crossing, cutting off all humanitarian aid to Gaza as hundreds of thousands face starvation.

Biden gives ultimatum to Israel: Don't attack Rafah or you'll lose supply of U.S. bombs, artillery shells.

Tlaib urges ICC to ARREST NETANYAHU after the Israeli leader's decision to invade Rafah.

Israel's invasion of Rafah risks new MASSACRE, Jordan's King Abdullah II warns Biden.

Israel carpet bombs Rafah after Hamas accepts ceasefire proposal.

Sources include:

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