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Netanyahu rebuffs Biden, says Israel will 'do what we have to do' in Rafah

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published May 15,2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed US President Joe Biden's opposition to his forces launching a massive ground operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as tensions mount between the leaders.

Netanyahu acknowledged US opposition to his avowed full-scale invasion but reiterated the Israeli military's intent to defy the pressure and invade the city where 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge after being forced by Israel to leave their homes earlier in the war.

"Yes, we do have a disagreement on Gaza. Rather, on Rafah. But we have to do what we have to do," Netanyahu told the American network, CNBC. "And, you know, sometimes you have to, you just have to do what is required to ensure your survival and your future. We cannot continue into the future by having Hamas retake Gaza."

Netanyahu has come under intense international pressure, including from Washington, to refrain from launching an offensive on Rafah due to the risk that it would exponentially worsen Gaza's humanitarian catastrophe.

Many of their homes have been damaged and destroyed in Israel's relentless war bringing widespread destruction across the coastal enclave.

"I hope we can see eye to eye with the United States. We're talking to them. But ultimately, we do what we have to do to protect the life of our nation. And to prevent such savageries from being repeated again and again and again," added Netanyahu, referring to the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack that precipitated the current war.

Less than 1,200 people were killed that day, and hundreds were taken to Gaza as hostages. About 130 remain in captivity.

Gaza's Health Ministry said earlier Wednesday that the death toll has hit 35,233 with nearly 80,000 people injured.

Seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave's population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). An interim ruling in January said it is "plausible" that Tel Aviv is committing what has been referred to as the "crime of crimes" in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

But Israel has continued its offensive, and aid deliveries remain far short of pre-war levels. Even then, the coastal territory was heavily reliant on external assistance due to Israel's 17-year blockade.