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Netanyahu Intends to Cross Biden’s ‘Red Line’ to Invade Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not abide President Joe Biden’s “red line” warning not to invade Rafah in Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge from the ongoing assault.

“We’ll go there. We’re not going to leave. You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is, that Oct. 7 doesn’t happen again. Never happens again,” Netanyahu said Sunday, according to Politico.

Biden and his administration have urged Israel not to invade or launch a major offensive on Rafah at least until civilians have been allowed the opportunity to evacuate. Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have called for a temporary ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan, but Israel and Hamas have not reached an agreement in negotiations.

Many Palestinians ended up in Rafah after being forced from their homes by Israel’s air strikes and invasion of Gaza cities. When asked on Saturday whether Rafah was a red line he was setting for Netanyahu, the president made contradictory comments. “It is a red line, but I’m never going to leave Israel,” Biden said during an MSNBC interview. “The defense of Israel is still critical. So there’s no red line [in which] I’m going to cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

Following his State of the Union address, Biden was overheard on a hot mic telling a Democratic senator, “I told him, Bibi, and don’t repeat this, but you and I are going to have a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting.”

“Bibi knows what I meant,” Biden said of the comment during the MSNBC interview. He added that Netanyahu “must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.”

The Israeli military has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, the Gaza Ministry of Health has reported, although that is likely an undercount. The assault on Gaza is in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed nearly 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped more than 100 hostages. Hamas still holds many Israeli hostages, although some have been released. On Thursday, Netanyahu called Rafah “the last Hamas stronghold.”

Because Israel has refused to allow much humanitarian aid into Gaza due to onerous inspections, conditions have severely deteriorated to the point that many lack access to food and fresh water. Gazans are suffering from malnutrition, and at least 20 have died from starvation, including children, according to a Wednesday statement by Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. In late February, at least 118 Palestinians were killed and 780 were injured when Israel’s troops opened fire while they attempted to collect food aid in Gaza City, causing a stampede.

“Every time, people come under fire” while attempting to get food aid, one survivor told French newspaper Le Monde.

United Nations experts have warned that famine is imminent, and UN medics said an invasion of Rafah would be a disaster “beyond imagination.” The UN’s top humanitarian official, Martin Griffiths, said last month that an assault on Rafah “could lead to a slaughter” and “could also leave an already fragile humanitarian operation at death’s door.”

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