As Israel Targets Last Hamas Stronghold of Rafah, Biden Admin Objects
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JERUSALEM, Israel – The Middle East is anticipating Israel's next military offensive as it surges toward Hamas' last remaining stronghold, the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border. In the face of the Israeli advance, the White House is pushing back.
In his sharpest criticism yet, President Joe Biden slammed Israel's military campaign in a press conference Thursday, saying, "I'm of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip has been over the top."
The president also talked about the negotiations to free the remaining hostages and mixed up the leaders of Mexico and Egypt.
National Security Spokesman John Kirby also warned about the plans to attack Hamas in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold, near the border with Egypt.
“I could tell you that, absent any full consideration of protecting civilians at that scale in Gaza, military operations right now would be a disaster for those people. And it's not something that we would support," Kirby declared.
Israel's operation in Rafah has begun with air strikes. Since it's on the Egyptian border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised coordination with Egypt.
For now, Hamas rules Rafah, a key city to its survival.
Some analysts believe Hamas uses the area to keep a stranglehold on the humanitarian aid coming into the Gaza Strip – a major way to control the Palestinian people, considering the existence of a safer humanitarian zone near the Mediterranean where Gazans could flee.
Hamas uses the more than a million Gazans who have fled the fighting as human shields.
NBC reports Israel is open to allowing Hamas mastermind Yahya Sinwar to go into exile in exchange for the release of all the Israeli hostages and the end of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces have uncovered a treasure trove of documents about massive funds transferred to Hamas.
“What we see is that Yahya Sinwar takes care of himself first and foremost," said Gallant. "Out of millions of dollars, one million goes to him [Sinwar]. Out of tens of millions, he puts what he needs into his pocket.”
Gallant said Sinwar is now a fugitive on the run.
In the north, IDF troops continue to train in anticipation of a potential war with Hezbollah.
The head of the Israel Air Force said dozens of aircraft are operating above southern Lebanon, and when an order is given, that number could expand to hundreds carrying out missions within minutes.
There has been anticipation for months that a major war could break out between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
Amid the fighting on multiple fronts, Netanyahu made clear to reporters that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will have to be replaced – after Israel has provided information alleging that around a dozen UNRWA workers took part in the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7th.
The military stress seems to be having a spiritual impact on Israelis. The Jerusalem Post released the findings of a survey Friday. In it, one-third of Israeli Jews have experienced a stronger faith in God since the Hamas attack last October.
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