Netanyahu insists on offensive in Rafah, tensions with President Biden

Pressure from allies and mediators on Israel and Hamas is growing to reach a truce for Gaza and the release of hostages held captive since October 7 in the enclave. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists on a hard line, pushing US President Joe Biden and his main collaborators, according to Washington Post sources, increasingly “close to rupture”, no longer considering him “a productive partner who can be influenced even in private”. There is reportedly “growing frustration” on Biden’s part, which has led some of his advisers to urge him to criticize Netanyahu more publicly. Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel who has known Bibi for more than 40 years, has so far been very reluctant to make his private frustrations public, but is said to be “slowly approaching the idea” after clear refusals to US orders.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, insists that there is no alternative to Israel’s control of Gaza and the operation in Rafah, the “last bastion” of Hamas, where there are around 1.4 million Palestinians who have fled the rest of the Strip. “Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying: lose the war, keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News, dismissing international fears and stressing that he ordered the defense forces “a plan detailed”. for evacuation, “ensuring safe passage for the civilian population”. Victory, Netanyahu surely says, “is within our reach.” Biden, during a telephone conversation with the prime minister, while reiterating the “common objective of seeing Hamas defeated and ensuring the long-term security of Israel and its people”, stressed that “a military operation in Rafah will not must proceed without a credible decision and enforceable plan to ensure the safety and support of more than a million people taking refuge there.” The US president also stressed the need to explore the progress made in negotiations to secure the release of all hostages as quickly as possible and called for “urgent and specific measures to increase the flow and consistency of humanitarian assistance to innocent Palestinian civilians”.

According to Hamas, a possible Israeli ground offensive in Rafah will “break” hostage exchange negotiations. Mohammed Nizal, a leading figure in the Palestinian movement, accuses Netanyahu of wanting the war to continue in order to stay in power and fight “until the US elections in November, so that Trump wins.” Egypt, one of the main mediators in the negotiations, in turn completed a 14 km wall on the border with Gaza to prevent a mass exodus from the Strip, and on the other hand, according to the Wall Street Journal, Hamas warned that it will have to arrive to a truce agreement with Israel within two weeks, otherwise Tel Aviv will launch the operation in Rafah.

However, Israeli attacks on the city did not stop and 25 people were killed in the bombing of a house. Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, however, announced that attacks in the Strip resulted in the death of 2 hostages and the serious injury of 8 others, whose conditions are becoming increasingly critical due to the inability to provide them with adequate care. The death toll, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, reached 28,176, with 67,784 injured. And tensions in the region are not easing either. Iran marked the 45th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with protesters burning US and Israeli flags and holding signs reading “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”. President Ebrahim Raisi addressed the crowd in Tehran’s Azadi Square, calling on the United Nations to expel “the Zionist regime” and stressing that “the bombing of Gaza must be stopped as quickly as possible.”

As for the Red Sea, US Central Command struck two unmanned surface ships and three anti-ship cruise missiles north of Hodeidah, Yemen. Centcom said it had identified targets in Houthi-controlled areas and determined that they posed “an imminent threat.” Italy, however, assumed tactical command of the European Union operation Eunavfor (European Naval Force) Atalanta. The handover ceremony took place at the port of Djibouti. A moment with “relevant significance”, according to the Minister of Defense, Guido Crosetto, “the Red Sea region, following the Houthi threat and attacks, made this area central in the geostrategic and geopolitical panorama of the European Union. a new mission in the Red Sea to protect trade routes is confirmation of this. Italy was asked to provide the Force Commander for operation Aspides. This is further recognition of the work carried out by the Government, Defense and Navy, our commitment to these missions underlines Italy’s determination to actively contribute to international peace and security.”

Source: IL Tempo