Israel works to evacuate civilians from Rafah
As Israel begins its offensive in southern Gaza, it is working to evacuate more than a million Palestinians from the town of Rafah on the Egyptian border. FOX’s Mike Tobin reports from Tel Aviv.
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President Joe Biden, accused last week by a special adviser of “diminished capabilities,” showed no such problems in more than a dozen extended phone conversations or during a visit to wartime Israel in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“I found it very clear, very focused,” Netanyahu said. ABC this week. “We managed to agree on the objectives of the war and on many things.”
Special counsel Robert Hur announced last week that Biden would not face criminal charges for mishandling classified documents, in part because he is “an elderly man with a bad memory.” That has sparked an avalanche of criticism of Biden from Republicans who believe the president is unfit for office. Biden angrily denied the claims and accused Hur of gratuitous slander.
Hur spoke with Biden days after the October 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israeli border communities, which left 1,200 people dead, sparked the brutal war in Gaza and sparked widespread contact between Biden and Netanyahu in the months that followed.
Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel, but the relationship between the two leaders has appeared fractured in recent days. Netanyahu said he expected to speak with Biden on Sunday, adding that he and Biden have not spoken since Biden said last week that the Israeli campaign in Gaza was “overblown.”
“At times we have had disagreements, but they were not born from a lack of understanding on his part or mine,” Netanyahu said when asked if Biden had demonstrated a lessening of his mental abilities. “So that’s what I can tell you – I didn’t see it.”
∎ Netanyahu, appearing on Fox News Sunday, defended Israel’s aggressive military campaign following the attack by Hamas-led militants. “What would the American response be? I would say it would have been at least as strong as Israel’s,” Netanyahu said. “A lot of Americans tell me, ‘We would have flattened them, we would have turned them into dust.'”
∎ Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in Rabat against their country’s ties with Israel and denouncing the “genocide” in Gaza. Morocco, which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, condemned the Israeli war in Gaza as a “flagrant violation of the provisions of international law.” On Sunday, banners read “normalization is a betrayal” and “stop the massacre”.
∎ United States Central command declared its forces carried out successful self-defense strikes against two unmanned boats and three anti-ship cruise missiles near Yemen that were prepared to be launched against ships in the Red Sea. Such attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels have been a recurring occurrence since the start of the war.
Biden and his top aides are losing patience with Netanyahu and no longer view him as a productive partner willing to compromise, the Washington Post reports, citing six people familiar with their discussions. Some Biden aides are urging him to be more publicly critical of Netanyahu’s military operation in Gaza, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Netanyahu clashed with U.S. officials in recent days, quickly denouncing a hostage deal proposed by Hamas, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken worked with regional leaders to broker a deal. Netanyahu then announced that the Israeli military planned to invade Rafah, a move that drew howls of criticism from the United States, the United Nations and many world leaders.
However, all politics is local, and any indication that Netanyahu is backtracking on his promise to crush Hamas could be devastating to his already perilous political position at home.
Senior Egyptian officials told Israeli leaders they would not oppose a massive military operation in Rafah, a southern Gaza town on the Egyptian border, if Palestinian civilian casualties were avoided, the Times of Israel, citing Israeli Army Radio. Cairo could sharply criticize Israel if it launches an offensive in Gaza’s southernmost city, but it will not try to prevent the attack, the report said. Still, Egypt has sent around 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers to northeastern Sinai over the past two weeks as part of a series of measures to strengthen security on its border with Gaza, Egyptian security sources told Reuters.
“Those who say that we must not enter Rafah under any circumstances are basically saying that we must lose the war. Keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The UN has urged Israel to leave Rafah alone. Stéphane Dujarric, a UN spokesman, said last week that the city’s residents must be protected and not face forced displacement. Dujarric was “extremely concerned” since Israel intensified its airstrikes in the region ahead of the expected ground invasion. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell echoed those sentiments on Sunday, saying Rafah, a city of fewer than 300,000 people before the war, was being overwhelmed by Palestinians fleeing Israeli forces and heading south in pursuit of Hamas militants.
“Rafah is one of the most densely populated places in the world, teeming with children and families, some already repeatedly displaced by the war in Gaza,” Russell said in a statement. social media post. “Some 1.3 million civilians are relegated to the corner, living on the streets or in shelters. They must be protected. They have nowhere safe to go.”