Netanyahu: We will fight Hamas alone

The head of US diplomacy warned Israel of global isolation if it goes to Rafah

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Blinken in Tel Aviv with protesters calling for the release of Israeli hostages, Photo: Reuters
Blinken in Tel Aviv with protesters calling for the release of Israeli hostages, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said yesterday that an offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah would risk "further isolating" Israel and endangering its long-term stability.

He said on his departure from Israel that he had "frank discussions", referring to meetings with officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The military ground operation in Rafah "risks killing more civilians." It risks causing even more chaos with humanitarian aid. It risks further isolating Israel around the world and endangering its long-term security and standing," said Blinken.

Netanyahu told Blinken yesterday that Israel is ready to continue the war against Hamas on its own amid strained relations between the two allies over the conflict in Gaza.

The head of US diplomacy spoke with Netanyahu one-on-one during his sixth visit to the Middle East since the beginning of the war on October 7.

Netanyahu said he told Blinken that he appreciates US support in the fight against Hamas and that Israel understands it needs to protect civilians. However, he reiterated that he was planning an offensive in Rafah, 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 remaining battalions there. And I told him that I hope we will do it with the support of the US, but if we have to, we will do it ourselves," he told the newspaper.

Israel says Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas militants and has a plan to evacuate civilians before the attack.

The US, Israel's closest ally since its founding in 1948, provides billions of dollars in military aid annually and regularly uses diplomatic influence to protect Israeli interests.

In the latest diplomatic duel at the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China vetoed a US-proposed resolution calling for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza if Hamas releases all hostages.

The text of the resolution is a reflection of the tightening of the US attitude towards Israel. Earlier in the five-month war, Washington vetoed measures that included calls for an immediate ceasefire, but Moscow and Beijing say it is not yet doing enough to rein in Israel.

British and US ambassadors vote for the resolution in the UN Security Council
British and US ambassadors vote for the resolution in the UN Security Councilphoto: Reuters

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, accused Russia and China of blocking the resolution for "cynical" and "petty" reasons.

The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasiliy Nebenzja, said that the resolution was "extremely politicized" and practically gave Israel the green light to launch a military operation in Rafah.

China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun said the text proposed by the US was unbalanced and criticized it for not clearly stating its opposition to Israel's planned operation in Rafah, which he said could lead to severe consequences.

Russia and China support an alternative text that the US says does not put enough pressure on Hamas regarding the current diplomatic initiative. France also said it was working on an alternative resolution.

The tension in relations between the US and Israel is becoming more and more public, and US President Joe Biden has said that the Israeli campaign in Gaza is "excessive" and that it has claimed too many civilian lives.

More than 32 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombing, according to Gaza health authorities.

Blinken said he would press Netanyahu to take immediate steps to allow more aid for the enclave, which the United Nations says is at risk of mass starvation.

U.S. officials say the number of overland aid deliveries should be increased quickly and aid should be sustained over a longer period.

"One hundred percent of the population of Gaza is experiencing severe levels of acute food insecurity. We cannot, we must not allow this to continue," Blinken said at a news conference late Thursday.

Israel, which controls all shipments to Gaza and has sealed off a fence in the enclave's north, denies restricting food and says it believes sufficient supplies are passing through.

"As far as we know, according to our analysis, there is no starvation in Gaza. A sufficient amount of food enters Gaza every day," Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel's Coordination and Liaison Authority for Gaza, told reporters.

Senior Israeli and US officials are due to meet in Washington next week, when the US will present Israel with alternative ways to fight Hamas short of an all-out offensive in Rafah.

US Vice President Kamala Harris said yesterday that there is no safe exit for civilians from Rafah.

Meetings were also held yesterday in Doha with the aim of securing a ceasefire. The truce talks have centered on a proposal for a six-week ceasefire during which about 40 Israeli hostages held by Hamas would be freed in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

However, Israel is only ready for a temporary pause in the fighting, while Hamas wants a permanent end to the war.

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