Netanyahu Promises to Ignore Biden and Invade Rafah Anyway

( – Over the last couple of weeks, President Joe Biden has been making increasingly strong hints to Israel that he doesn’t want the Jewish state’s military to occupy Rafah, the Hamas terrorist group’s last stronghold in the Gaza Strip. He finally came out in the open and said an assault on Rafah would be a “red line.” Now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded — and he’s made clear that while the US is Israel’s ally, it doesn’t get to give orders.

In a March 9 interview with MSNBC, Biden said he didn’t want to see combat in Rafah, a city near Gaza’s border with Egypt whose normal population of 172,000 has swollen to an estimated 1.4 million by refugees. He said an Israeli advance into the area would be a “red line.”

Biden quickly qualified his statement, insisting he would never abandon Israel and there was no chance of the US cutting off supplies of missiles for the Jewish state’s Iron Dome missile defense system. In fact, a weapons embargo is the only real leverage Biden has over Israel, and even then it isn’t powerful. While the Israeli military uses a lot of US-made weapons, the country has a large arms industry of its own and is a major arms exporter; it’s survived without US weapons before and can do it again. However, the president’s words still went too far for Israel’s conservative prime minister.

On March 10, Netanyahu gave his own interview, to German media channel Axel Springer, and reminded viewers about the October 7 massacre by Hamas that started the current war. He said he didn’t care whether Biden approved of the occupation of Rafah and said “We’ll go there.” Then he turned the president’s own words back on him, saying “I have a red line… that Oct. 7 doesn’t happen again.”

Israel has said since the beginning of the war that Hamas needs to be removed from power in Gaza; if the Iran-backed terrorist group still controls the territory, it will be in a position to mount more attacks in Israel and continue the years-long rocket barrage it’s been carrying out since it seized power in 2006. With Israel’s northern border coming under increasing pressure from Lebanon-based Hezbollah, the country can’t tolerate another threat to its west — so Netanyahu is determined to wipe out Hamas in Rafah, whether Biden likes it or not.

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