Netanyahu Defies: Israel prepared to fight alone, We will fight with our nails

Benjamin Netanyahu does not give up the offensive on Rafah, he says that regardless of the interruption of US aid, they will continue to fight with what they have

by Sededin Dedovic
Netanyahu Defies: Israel prepared to fight alone, We will fight with our nails
© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that Israel will stand alone and fight despite American threats to further restrict weapons shipments if Israeli forces continue their offensive on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, reports The Guardian.

Netanyahu spoke on Thursday after delegations from Israel and Hamas left ceasefire talks in Cairo. It was not clear whether the talks were suspended or simply paused. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have long managed a complicated relationship, but they are running out of room for maneuver as their views on the Gaza war diverge and their shared political future hangs in the balance.

As both navigate between the explosive situation in the Middle East and their own domestic political issues, Netanyahu has become increasingly resistant to Biden's public offensives and private pleas, prompting the president's more determined rebuff in recent weeks.

"If they go to Rafah, I'm not delivering weapons that will be used to settle scores with Rafah, to settle scores with cities dealing with that problem," Biden said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, revealing his growing rift with Netanyahu.

However, Biden's aides insist that the president is not willing to let US-Israeli relations truly rupture during his tenure. Hamas announced early this morning that the "ball is now completely" in Israel's court, while Israel claims that Hamas's version of the agreement does not align with its demands.

An Israeli soldier walks near an armored personnel carrier near the border with the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024 in Southe© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Failure to reach an agreement in this week's round of talks has sparked fears of an imminent Israeli attack on Rafah.

Netanyahu, it seems, has shrugged off a public warning from US President Joe Biden the previous night that if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launch a major offensive on the city, the US will not provide bombs and artillery shells to support the operation.

"If we have to stand alone, we'll stand alone. If we have to fight, we'll fight with our nails. But we have much more than nails," Netanyahu said. He noted that Israel is approaching the 76th anniversary of independence, which it had to fight for.

"We didn't have weapons," he said, referring to the 1948 war. "There was an embargo on weapons to Israel, but with great strength of spirit, heroism, and unity among us - we won." US officials had hoped that a diplomatic breakthrough could be achieved in ceasefire negotiations after Hamas announced on Monday that it had accepted a deal.

It remains unclear what specific terms it accepted, and Israel, while skeptical, agreed to send a delegation to Cairo. Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official on Thursday as saying that the Israeli delegation had expressed reservations about Hamas's stance and believed that the round of negotiations in Cairo had ended.

The official said the Israeli delegation is returning from the Egyptian capital and that Israel will continue its operation in Rafah and other parts of the Gaza Strip as planned. Hamas said its delegation left Cairo after Israel "rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to several central issues".

The White House confirmed that CIA Director William Burns is leaving Cairo but denied that the talks had failed. "Burns is leaving the region as previously planned, but interlocutors from other delegations are still in talks in Cairo, so those talks are still ongoing," national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

"We will remain engaged, hopeful that we might succeed in something." A major offensive on the city of Rafah would endanger the lives of more than a million Palestinians who have sought refuge there. Kirby also said that the US continues to advise Israel on how it could defeat Hamas through more surgical operations: "Our view is that any major ground operation in Rafah would actually strengthen Hamas's hand at the negotiating table, not Israel's." He added that more civilian casualties in Rafah would give more ammunition to Hamas's "twisted narrative" about Israel.

The survival of civilians is already jeopardized by the closure of two crossings in southern Gaza, Rafah and Kerem Shalom, on Monday when the IDF began an operation to seize the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing, east of the city.

Rafah was the only territory receiving humanitarian aid and where the Palestinian people could go and be relatively safe. By attacking it, questions arise, first, where will the Palestinian population, currently on the outskirts of the borders in tents, seek shelter, and second, what will happen to the humanitarian aid they need.

Benjamin Netanyahu