Netanyahu’s slap to Biden

The humiliated US president will continue arming Israel despite his show of dissent

Tuesday’s early morning Israeli airstrikes on Rafah — which killed 14 people, including tree women and three children — were Benjamin Netanyahu’s reply to Joe Biden’s request, in a phone conversation the previous evening, not to invade the city or foil the talks aimed at reaching a truce agreement.

Netanyahu deliberately set out to humiliate the US president, and not just with the airstrikes. In an address to Israeli legislators, he declared that Hamas could only be destroyed by an all-out invasion of Rafah and that he had informed the US president of his determination to proceed with that operation. His stance was echoed by other members of his government.

Biden, leader of the world’s greatest superpower, has clearly lost his verbal standoff with his servant/master Netanyahu. The latter showed that it is he who calls the shots in Washington. He trashed the undertaking he supposedly made in that phone call, and went ahead with preparations for invading Rafah by ordering the airstrikes and storming Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

An early result of Netanyahu’s slap to Biden’s face will be to scupper the negotiations in Doha between the intelligence chiefs of the US, Egypt, and Israel and the prime minister of Qatar. Biden and his administration had been counting on them to produce a three-stage truce agreement that would include prisoner exchanges and end Israel’s war on Gaza.

Netanyahu clearly demonstrated that he does not want any such deal. He first restricted the mandate of the Mossad chief who was taking part in the talks, and then recalled him.

Biden is unlikely to respond to these slaps. He is terrified and intimidated by Netanyahu. His only reaction will be to support the assault under the table by sending more military and financial aid to Israel and maintaining the flow of arms that has sustained its war on Gaza. Since it started the US has delivered it around 300 planeloads, 50 shiploads, and 35,000 tons of ammunition and equipment.

A ground assault on Rafah will not succeed in destroying the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. It will cause major losses for the Israeli army. The resistance will not stand idly by. It has prepared well for such an offensive and set many traps and ambushes for the invading forces.

The statements Netanyahu made at the start of the war about destroying the resistance and freeing the hostages are identical to those he is making now in response to the US’ show of dissent and to justify an assault on Rafah — the supposed’safe haven’ where he had forced the residents of northern Gaza to relocate.

The resistance brigades, which have stood fast for more than five months against the biggest Israeli war of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the history of the conflict and the region, will certainly survive an assault on Rafah — the city that brought Ariel Sharon to his knees and became a graveyard for his soldiers after the 1967 occupation.

The Israeli army did not manage to impose its control on Jabaliya or the north, and similarly failed in Deir al-Balah, Mughazi, Nusseirat, Khan Younis, and Abasan, where the resistance remains active. Why would it succeed in Rafah? And what will it do with its 1.5 million inhabitants and displaced people? Send them to Mars, or exterminate them all?

An invasion would not only be a defiance of the US and the hypocritical West that revolves in its orbit, but also of Egypt and its president Abdelfattah as-Sisi.

It would mean taking over the Salaheddin (Philadelphi) border corridor, decoupling Egypt from Palestine geographically, and closing the Rafah crossing for good. It would pose a direct threat to Egypt’s national security, wreck the country’s standing in the Arab world and internationally, and infuriate one hundred million Egyptians who are already enraged at the genocidal war being waged on their Palestinian brothers and sisters.

I said from the start of the ground operation that Israel would be defeated and the resistance would emerge victorious, the more so the longer the war lasts. I repeat that assertion with the start of the Rafah assault. Who had expected back then that the Yemeni navy would close the Red Sea and make its approaches unsafe for the US navy and its aircraft carriers; or that the Lebanese front would ignite and send 150,000 Israeli settlers packing; or that the Islamic resistance in Iraq would strike Israeli infrastructure and bases?

Netanyahu will end up digging the grave of the Zionist enterprise and deepening it, and hasten the onset of the one-state solution: the state of Greater Palestine.

Netanyahu’s slap to Biden

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