Israel Determined To Invade Rafah With Or Without US

On Thursday, a top Israeli official was quoted by Bloomberg as stating that the Israeli military would ultimately invade the city of Rafah in southern Gaza even if the rest of the world, including the U.S., turns on Israel.

“We are going to go in and finish this job, and anybody who doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand that the existential nerve of the Jews was touched,” said Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, referring to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack perpetrated against Israel by Hamas that left more than 1,200 dead.

Dermer is a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and he is expected to come to Washington early next week to hear concerns from the White House about how an invasion of Rafah would cause numerous civilian casualties during what is already a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to the AP, during a phone call earlier this week, President Joe Biden told Netanyahu not to carry out a ground operation in Rafah. Biden told the Israeli leader that the U.S. was seeking an “alternative approach” that did not involve an invasion.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, during his sixth visit to the region since Oct. 7, reiterated the White House’s concerns. Blinken is in the region pushing for a deal between Israel and Hamas that would lead to a six-week ceasefire along with an exchange of hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid.

“We’ve been very clear, President Biden’s been very clear, that a major ground operation in Rafah would be a mistake, something we can’t support,” Blinken said. “There is no place for the many civilians who are massed in Rafah to go to get out of harm’s way, and for those that inevitably remain, it would be a humanitarian disaster.”

Dermer said that the White House has not categorically rejected any Israeli military operation in Rafah and seemed hopeful that the two countries could still work together when the time comes for the invasion to happen.

“They said without a credible way of moving a mass of people out of Rafah and surging humanitarian assistance to them they don’t see how this can be done effectively,” Dermer said. “And we are saying we agree with you that we have to move the people out…and we believe we can do it.”

No invasion of Rafah seems imminent, especially with Dermer’s upcoming trip to Washington. Netanyahu, however, has given the green light for the operation but it will take time to plan and execute it.

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