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10 May, 2024 14:18

Israel will fight with its ‘fingernails’ – Netanyahu defies US ultimatum

The prime minister’s pledge comes after President Biden warned the IDF against a major offensive in the Gazan city of Rafah
Israel will fight with its ‘fingernails’ – Netanyahu defies US ultimatum

Israel will continue its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza regardless of disapproval from its key allies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. His remarks came shortly after US President Joe Biden warned the Israeli leadership that any large-scale operation in Rafah would mean a halt in the supply of key defense equipment.

The city in southern Gaza is the last major population center still not under Israeli control. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians have taken shelter there in recent months, with some estimates putting the current population of the city, usually around 400,000, at over a million. Movement of humanitarian convoys bringing food and medicine has reportedly been disrupted as the Israeli offensive continues.

Earlier this week, Israeli troops and tanks entered the eastern districts of Rafah in what itl described as a “limited” operation, after fighter jets bombarded the city.

Speaking on Thursday, Netanyahu stated: “If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone. If we need to, we will fight with our fingernails. But we have much more than fingernails.” He noted that in 1948 Israel gained independence despite an “arms embargo.”

On the same day, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari insisted that the military “has armaments for the missions it plans, and for the missions in Rafah, too.”

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, US President Biden warned: “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem.”

He noted that the Israeli military has not “gone into the population centers.” He also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Israel’s defense, saying that the US would “continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently.”

On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told members of Congress that Washington had already put arms shipments to Israel on hold last week, as quoted by the Financial Times. The newspaper claimed that the US had not made the final decision regarding the weapons though.

The paused delivery allegedly included thousands of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs.

According to the FT, the US had not resorted to such shipment restrictions since the start of the conflict in Gaza last October, with more than 100 arms deliveries approved to date.