Perception of US-Israel tension over Rafah hurts hostage deal, Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the perception of tension between the Jewish State and the US over the operation in Rafah is making it harder to reach a hostage deal with Hamas.

After the Biden administration halted the delivery of certain munitions to the IDF over fears of growing civilian casualties in Rafah, Netanyahu claimed the optics of a disagreement between the two ally nations harms Israel’s bargaining power and empowers the Iranian-backed terror group.

“That perception certainly doesn’t help the hostage situation, certainly doesn’t help stabilize the Middle East,” Netanyahu said Sunday night on the Call Me Back podcast.

“It gives succor to Iran and its henchmen,” he added. “But it means that we have to apply the pressure even more.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said tensions between the Jewish State and the US only help Hamas. POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Netanyahu maintains that military pressure in Rafah is the best way to secure the hostages’ freedom. Israeli Army/AFP via Getty Images

Netanyahu maintained that military pressure is the best way to force Hamas to accept a deal to free the more than 130 hostages remaining in Gaza, with the IDF continuing to battle terrorists in the outskirts of Rafah, where some of the last Hamas battalions are believed to be stationed.

The prime minister urged the US to stick by its support of the Jewish State and not be influenced by the anti-Israel protests that have erupted across the nation on college campuses.

“Where does America go?” Netanyahu asked. “Does it succumb to this madness, to this ‘mob-ocracy’ in those campuses, to this flagrant anti-semitism that is sweeping the globe?

“The fate of the world depends on where America goes,” he stressed. “I think for the sake of humanity, for the sake of our common future, our common values, our civilization, it is very important that America retains its dominant position as the supreme global power. ”

The US halted a munitions delivery to Israel after expressing worries of growing civilian casualties in Rafah. REUTERS
The Biden Administration has stressed the need for a robust plan to avoid civilian casualties if Israel seeks a full assault in Rafah. AFP via Getty Images

The hesitation from the US came following Israel’s decision to advance into Rafah, southern Gaza’s most populous city harboring more than 1 million refugees who fled the battles in the north.

The possibility of more civilian casualties remains at the forefront of Biden’s worries in Gaza, with Netanyahu estimating that about one civilian has been killed for every terrorist slain.

“Fourteen thousand have been killed, combatants, and, probably around sixteen thousand civilians have been killed,” Netanyahu told the Call Me Back podcast.

Two boys watch smoke billow after an Israeli airstrike hit Rafah on Sunday. AFP via Getty Images

The estimate is slightly lower than the numbers provided by the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which puts the total death count at more than 35,000. The ministry’s estimate does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians.

The Jewish State previously estimated that two civilians were killed for every one terrorist back in December.

Despite the civilian death count, Netanyahu suggested it was wrong for the US to halt weapons deliveries while at the same time touting itself as Israel’s biggest ally.

“You cannot say that you support the right of Israel to defend itself and then condemn it when it seeks to exercise that right.”

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