Benjamin Netanyahu tells Blinken Israel will ‘do it alone’ in Rafah push

Mar22,2024



Tel Aviv: Prime Minister Benjamin netanyahu Top US diplomat told Antony blinken Said on Friday that Israel is ready to continue the war against Hamas Alone, amid strained relations between the two allies over the six-month-old Gaza conflict.
Blinken met Netanyahu face-to-face with the aim of ensuring greater food flows into Gaza, the sixth diplomatic visit by the top US diplomat to the Middle East since the war began on October 7.
Netanyahu said he told Blinken he appreciates U.S. support in the fight against Hamas and that Israel recognizes it needs to protect civilians. However, they reiterated plans to cross into Rafah, against the territory's southern border fence, where more than a million Gazans have taken refuge in makeshift shelters.
“I also said that there is no way for us to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and destroying the remaining battalions there. And I told them that I hoped we would do that with the support of the United States, but if we If we have to do it – we will do it alone,” he said in a video statement to reporters.
Israel says Rafah is the last stronghold of Hamas militants and it plans to evacuate civilians before the attack. Washington says a ground attack would be a “mistake” and would cause great harm to displaced people there.
In Gaza, Israel on Friday claimed to have killed or captured hundreds of Hamas fighters in a five-day operation at the Al Shifa hospital complex, one of the only partially functioning medical facilities in the north. Hamas and medical staff deny that fighters were present there.
Tensions in relations between the United States and Israel have become increasingly public, with US President Joe Biden calling Israel's campaign in Gaza “over the top” and saying it has had an outsized impact on civilian life.
The war was triggered by attacks by Hamas fighters in southern Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage by Israeli soldiers. Gaza health officials say more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in subsequent Israeli bombardments, while many more are feared dead under the debris.
Ahead of the meeting, Blinken said he would press Netanyahu to take immediate steps to allow more aid into the densely populated area, where mass death from famine is imminent, according to the United Nations.
US officials say there is a need to rapidly increase the number of ground aid deliveries and to continue this assistance for the long term.
“One hundred percent of Gaza's population is facing severe levels of acute food insecurity. We cannot do this, we must not allow this to continue,” Blinken said at a news conference late Thursday.
A report this week from the UN-trusted hunger monitor found that all Gazans were facing severe food shortages, with half the population at the worst of five levels or “catastrophe”, and at risk of famine. Mass death was imminent without being immediate. Change.
Israel, which inspects all shipments to Gaza and has closed the fence north of the enclave, denies restricting food and says it believes sufficient quantities of food are arriving Is.
Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel's coordination and liaison administration for Gaza, told reporters, “As far as we know, from our analysis, there is no starvation in Gaza. There is a sufficient amount of food coming into Gaza every day.”
Eight killed in air strike
On Friday, eight people were killed in an airstrike on a house in al-Nasser, east of Rafah. Video images show mourners crowding around bodies wrapped in white, while a doll made of red cloth lies among the debris of a crushed house.
Mourner Turkia Barbach said the dead included a father, a mother and their five children.
He said, “They are all children; they did not protest or do anything. What happened to them is unjust.” “How long do we have to endure this?”
Last week, the leader of Biden's Democratic Party in the US Senate called Netanyahu an obstacle to peace and said Israelis should vote him out. Biden called it a “good speech”; Netanyahu called it “inappropriate” and later held a video conference with lawmakers from Biden's Republican opposition.
Senior Israeli and US officials are due to meet in Washington next week, when the United States will present the Israelis with alternative ways to hunt down Hamas in Rafah without resorting to a full-scale assault.
Meetings are also being held in Doha on Friday with the aim of ensuring a ceasefire in the conflict.
Qatar's ceasefire talks centered on a proposal to halt the fighting for six weeks, during which about 40 Israeli hostages held by Hamas would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
However, Israel is only committed to temporarily halting the conflict and has repeatedly said it will press ahead with its campaign to achieve its goal of eliminating Hamas, which controls Gaza. Hamas wants a permanent end to the war and the withdrawal of Israeli troops.
Blinken said Thursday that the gap was narrowing.
In Gaza, fighting in recent days has focused on the Al Shifa hospital complex, which is also sheltering hundreds of people displaced from their homes.
Israeli troops entered the facility on Monday and are searching the vast complex, which they say is connected to a tunnel network used by Hamas.
Israel said it killed hundreds of fighters and detained more than 500 suspects in its operation on Al Shifa, including 358 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It said three senior Islamic Jihad military commanders and two Hamas officials responsible for operations in the occupied West Bank were detained, along with other Hamas internal security officials.
Hamas has denied that its fighters were at the compound and says those killed there were civilians and that those detained included medical workers.
The Gaza Health Ministry said on Friday that Israeli bombardment had damaged the surgery department at the hospital and that about 240 patients and 10 health workers had been detained.
Israel released photographs of the faces of hundreds of people it said were captured fighters in a hospital, then later acknowledged that some were not captives. Ismail al-Thawbta, director of the Hamas-run government media office, said releasing the false photos reflected Israel's “crisis and failure.”



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