Defiant Netanyahu insists Israel will act alone if U.S. doesn’t provide more weapons for Rafah offensive
By Cassie B. // May 16, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that even if President Biden makes good on his threat to withhold some arms from the Jewish state, they will press forward with their offensive in Gaza anyway.

Biden recently took a strong stance against a potential Israeli invasion of the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are believed to be taking shelter, announcing that the U.S. will not provide Israel with any offensive weapons for such an effort.

However, Netanyahu said in a statement that they are prepared to take action even without American support, insisting that “if we have to stand alone, we will stand alone. If we need to, we will fight with our fingernails. But we have much more than our fingernails, and with that strength of spirit, with God's help, together we shall be victorious."

The country's top military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, claims that America's weapons are not needed anyway, saying: “The army has munitions for the missions it plans, and for the missions in Rafah, too -- we have what we need.”

It is believed that around 1.3 million Palestinians are currently seeking refuge in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, which amounts to more than half of the enclave's population. Gaza is already suffering from a devastating humanitarian crisis, and much of the world is opposed to an invasion there. According to the UN, most Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from hunger, with northern Gaza already in the throes of a full-blown famine. Given that even smaller Israeli operations, such as a tank brigade recently capturing the Gazan side of a border crossing in Rafah, have been enough to seriously compromise humanitarian operations, a full-scale invasion could be the final straw.

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The Biden administration maintains that it will not support a major invasion of Rafah without a credible plan in place to ensure the safety of noncombatants. In an interview with CNN, Biden admitted that some of the American weapons that have been sent to Israel have been used to kill Gazan civilians.

Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” he said.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” he added.

However, he said America remains committed to providing Israel with defensive weapons such as the Iron Dome air defense system.

For its part, Israel continues to insist that going into Rafah is necessary because it is a Hamas stronghold, and they have already started warning some people in the eastern part of the city to "evacuate immediately” ahead of an impending military operation there.

Biden's refusal to send weapons a major setback for Israel

Israeli officials have reportedly expressed “deep frustration” to American officials about the paused shipments. Biden's refusal to send the weapons is considered a major setback for Israel’s war efforts as the U.S. has been their most powerful and important ally since the war broke out in October. Biden has long been pressuring Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and improve the flow of humanitarian aid to the enclave.

So far, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, and most of them are women and children. Around four-fifths of Gazans have been forced to flee their homes.

Sources for this article include:

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