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Biden Faces Critical Decision: How Will He Respond to Israel’s Potential Invasion of Rafah?

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Tensions are rising between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and US President Joe Biden as Israel intensifies efforts to destroy Hamas. Israel started discussing an invasion of Rafah – a city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip – a few weeks ago. Netanyahu said earlier that a hostage/prisoner swap could delay the planned invasion.

What will Joe Biden do? This is still unclear, and the lack of clarity poses a serious problem.

A spokesperson for Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed Friday that more than a month since he first announced Israel’s intention to attack Gaza’s southernmost town of Rafah a plan has been approved by the Israeli PM. Although the exact timing of the operation has not been specified, plans are said to be in place for the evacuation and relocation of civilians from the city.

This announcement comes after weeks of increased concern from human rights groups and world leaders about the impact of such an offensive on Rafah’s 1.4M residents. Many of them were told to flee the area at the beginning of Israel’s ground invasion.

There are rumors about what might happen when Israel attacks Rafah. Israel has continued to ignore Biden and the other world leaders who want Israel to stop its pursuit of Hamas. The Congressional Democrats are frustrated by Israel’s response to the president. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said:

Netanyahu has ignored President Biden’s calls for action time and time again. “I think this makes the United States appear ineffective.”

The lawmaker asserted that “to effectively enforce [Biden’s] warnings the administration has to use these other tools at its disposal,” which highlights a desire on the left for the White House to go harder in trying to compel Israel not to continue attacking Hamas, including conditioning U.S. military support and cutting off all military aid to Israel:

The group was led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) They are demanding that President Biden adhere to the Foreign Assistance Act, and stop military aid going to Israel.

In a letter sent to Biden on Monday, the senators argued that section 620I (of the Foreign Assistance Act) requires the Biden Administration to halt sales and transfers of weapons to Israel if the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu continues to block U.S. aid to Gaza.

They wrote that the United States shouldn’t provide military aid to any country that interferes with U.S. humanitarian assistance, noting the language in the statute still allows the United States to provide missile defense systems, such as the Iron Dome, for protecting Israeli civilians against rocket attacks.

Biden appeared to have set a redline for Israel, last week. He demanded that Israel refrain from invading Rafah. Later, the White House retracted its position and claimed that Biden’s demand was not a “red line”. Senate Democrats suggested that Israel should not receive military aid if they continue their incursion into the city. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DNY) suggested that special elections be held to replace Netanyahu. He called him “a major obstruction to peace”. The President agreed, calling Schumer’s remarks “good speeches.”

Israel continues to fight Hamas while the Biden administration flails about. They are calling for the Jewish state’s surrender. It is especially frustrating because Biden appeared to support Israel’s right of self-defense when Hamas launched the war on Israel with the surprise attack on October 7.

Biden’s administration now projects weakness and lack of cohesion in its approach to the Middle East. The president seems to be trying to balance things badly. If the United States wants to get involved in this conflict it needs to take a more decisive position instead of the current flip-flopping.

The ineptitude of the Biden administration is evident by the fact that they don’t seem to have a plan for implementation if Israel needs to continue their efforts. The administration’s constant insistence that Israel stop its efforts to eliminate Hamas demonstrates that it does not care about Israel or the Gaza civilians who have suffered under the terrorist group for years. It’s hard to know how much the White House’s poor response was due to incompetence or malice. We won’t know the White House’s reaction to an invasion in Rafah until it happens.

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