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Israel will 'do it alone' in Rafah push

1 min

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken on Friday that Israel is prepared to continue its war against Hamas alone, amid tense relations between the two allies over the six-month-old Gaza conflict.

Friends, family members and supporters of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, protest outside the hotel where U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets relatives of the hostages, demanding their immediate release in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2024. Reuters/Janis Laizans

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken on Friday that Israel is prepared to continue its war against Hamas alone, amid tense relations between the two allies over the six-month-old Gaza conflict.

Blinken met one-on-one with Netanyahu in talks aimed at ensuring more food flows into Gaza, the top U.S. diplomat's sixth diplomatic swing through the Middle East since the war began on Oct. 7.

Netanyahu said he told Blinken he appreciated U.S. support in its fight against Hamas and that Israel recognises it needs to protect civilians. However, he reiterated plans to push 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 we have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there. And I told him that I hope we will do it with the support of the U.S., but if we have to - we will do it alone," he said in a video statement to reporters.

Israel says Rafah is the last bastion for Hamas militants, and that it has a plan to evacuate civilians before an attack. Washington says a ground assault would be a "mistake" and cause too much harm to those displaced there.

From a strictly military standpoint, Netanyahu is not wrong.

His army controls a good portion of Gaza. The last elements of the Hamas are located in Rafah, including the leaders of Islamist organizations.

The hostages are certainly in this area.

A ceasefire would allow the Banda to maintain its ranks and reorganize while using the hostages as leverage.

It's a difficult perspective to accept.

However, Israel has committed to sparing civilian populations and allowing more food aid to enter.

The logical question that arises is as follows: Instead of calling for a ceasefire, why don't the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and others demand that the Hamas surrender?

That's the only solution.

By Humeyra Pamuk and Nidal al-Mughrabi with Mena Today 

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