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‘US does not deserve to be Israel’s friend,’ says far-right Israeli minister

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 05,2024

An Israeli minister on Sunday said the US "does not deserve" to be called a friend of Israel.

"I think that the words that were said at the (negotiations) table indicate that the United States pledges on our behalf to stop the war," said Settlements and National Projects Minister Orit Strock in an interview with Radio North 104.5FM.

"I am very worried this morning," she added. "Israel is not another star on the American flag, it can and must adhere to its opinion," said the far-right minister.

Strock added that "the United States does not meet the minimum requirements for being a friend of the State of Israel," adding that "it does not deserve" to be labeled a friend of Israel.

Despite its military, financial, and diplomatic support for Israel in its deadly war on Gaza for seven months, the US says it is pressuring Tel Aviv as part of regional and international efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip and exchange hostages-prisoners with the Palestinian group Hamas.

The US is also pressuring Israel not to invade the southern city of Rafah, which is home to over 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Strock had previously caused a stir last week, when she told the Israeli Army Radio that there are "soldiers who left everything behind and went out to fight for goals that the government defined, and we throw it in the trash to save 22 people or 33 or I don't know how many," adding that "such a government has no right to exist."

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have also opposed any agreement on a full cease-fire, and continue to push for attacking the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Tel Aviv believes 134 Israelis are being held in Gaza, while Israel is holding some 9,000 Palestinians in its jails.

Israel has killed more than 34,600 Palestinians since an Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border attack by Hamas in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 hostages taken.

A previous deal last November saw the release of 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners in exchange for 240 Palestinians, including 71 women and 169 children.

The US, Qatar, and Egypt have tried to broker an agreement to release the remaining Israeli captives.

The conflict has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.