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Sabra Express | Bombshell

Hannah Sarisohn & Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, May 9th, 2024

 

Recap:

US President Joe Biden warned Israel, for the first time, that he’d halt US weapons shipments earmarked for Gaza if the IDF embarks on a major military operation against Hamas in Rafah.

 

The Context:

·      The war began when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, killing 1,200 people, and abducting 252 others, of whom 133 remain hostage in Gaza. According to Hamas, Israel's offensive has killed 34,844 Palestinians [1]. Hamas’s numbers are unverified, and do not distinguish between militants and civilians.

·      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israeli troops would carry out an operation to root out the final Hamas strongholds in Rafah. Hamas’s remaining battalions are in the city, along with its leadership and hostages [2]. Four Israeli soldiers were killed following a rocket attack originating from Rafah on Sunday [3]. This week, Israel seized the Gaza side of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt in what the military called a “pinpoint operation [4].” Hamas still controlled the crossing and collected revenue from its operations [5].

·      The Biden administration has been opposed to a Rafah operation, which the US fears would create a humanitarian catastrophe because over 1.3 million Palestinians are in the area [6]. The IDF asserts that it’s doing everything possible to protect civilians by ordering over 100,000 to move to an “expanded humanitarian area [7].” In a major blow to Israel, the US paused a shipment consisting of 1,800 2,000-lb bombs and 1,700 500-lb bombs. This would be the first such delay since the Biden administration, offered its "ironclad" support to Israel after October 7th [8]. Israel depends heavily on the United States to arm its military [9].

·      Israel had recently agreed to what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described as a “generous” hostage deal proposal which would see a limited number of returned hostages and a pause in the war [10]. Hamas structured its counter proposal to release very few hostages in return for an end to the IDF’s campaign in Gaza, ensure its survival and return to full power in Gaza and see the release of hundreds of hardened terrorists into the West Bank.

 

Conversation Points:

·      Is Biden's position political maneuvering or a genuine shift in his policy towards Israel?

·      Would the US be more inclined to support an operation in Rafah if they received a detailed plan from the Israeli government?

·      Does the absence of smart bombs from the US increase or decrease the risk of civilian casualties in Gaza?

·      Should Israel comply with America’s demands, even if it means Hamas remains intact?

 

Notes:

·      Battles rage around Rafah after U.S. halts some weapons to Israel, Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Steve Holland and Mohammad Salem, Reuters, May 8th, 2024

·      IDF says Kerem Shalom Crossing reopened to Gaza aid, days after attack forced closure, EMANUEL FABIAN, Times of Israel, May 8th, 2024.

·      Ibid.

·      Israel approved Rafah military operation and started striking Hamas targets, ALEXANDER WARD, Politico, May 6th, 2024.

·      Battles rage around Rafah after U.S. halts some weapons to Israel, Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Steve Holland and Mohammad Salem, Reuters, May 8th, 2024

·      Biden Puts Arms Shipment to Israel on Hold Amid Dispute Over Rafah Attack , Peter Baker, New York Times, May 8th, 2024.

 

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