Israel ‘Smashing Into Rafah’ Will Not Eradicate Hamas, Biden Aide Says

Mr. Kirby also tried to assuage concerns that the United States was breaking with its closest ally in the Middle East.

“The argument that somehow we’re walking away from Israel fly in the face of the facts,” Mr. Kirby said Thursday, citing Mr. Biden’s visit to Israel within the days of the Oct. 7 attack, providing money and military expertise for its war, and putting American fighter pilots in the sky to shoot down Iranian drones.

He said the United States believes that Israel has “put an enormous amount of pressure on Hamas, and that there are better ways to go after what is left of Hamas in Rafah than a major ground operation.”

Mr. Kirby said the United States was still working with Israel on ways it can help it defeat Hamas, such as ensuring that the border between Gaza and Egypt cannot be used for smuggling weapons and targeting Hamas’s leaders.

He also noted that while the United States has temporarily paused the transfer of bombs, Israel was “still getting the vast, vast majority of everything that they need to defend themselves,” and that a recent funding package passed by Congress will continue to send billions to Israel.

Mr. Biden’s decision to pause certain weapons shipments to Israel underscored brewing frustrations between Mr. Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu has said that Israel would move forward with its invasion in Rafah even without global support. In the last week, Israeli forces have carried out a number of targeted strikes in the Rafah, and showed other signs of a major ground invasion, including the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.

On Thursday, the Israeli leader said: “If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone. I have said that, if necessary, we will fight with our fingernails. But we have much more than fingernails and with that same strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we will win.”

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