• 23 Jun, 2024

America could not stop Israel from attacking Rafah

America could not stop Israel from attacking Rafah

Weak and indecisive American diplomacy led to the breakdown of ceasefire talks and subsequent civilian casualties.

Israel has been threatening to launch a full-scale invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah for months, prompting a belated warning from the US government urging a ceasefire. However, the Biden administration has been inconsistent on the issue, failing to apply significant pressure on Israel to pursue a resolution.

On May 6, Hamas publicly declared acceptance of a ceasefire proposal, sparking celebrations in Gaza. However, Israeli authorities quickly rejected the deal and committed to a ground operation in Rafah despite objections from the US.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized his refusal to accept any ceasefire involving Hamas.

Despite the Israeli military's capture of the Rafah Crossing and airstrikes killing civilians, Israel sent a delegation to Cairo to explore ceasefire options. Later, it was revealed that the ceasefire proposal Hamas accepted closely resembled one endorsed by the CIA and Israeli intelligence.

Meanwhile, in cities like Haifa and Tel Aviv, Israeli protesters demanded their government accept ceasefire terms, threatening unrest if their demands weren't met.

The US initially denied Hamas had accepted any ceasefire proposal, leading to confusion. President Biden later stated he wouldn't supply offensive weaponry for a "major invasion" of Rafah but didn't define what constitutes a major invasion or where the red line lies.

The Israeli military's unclear approach follows its violation of the 1979 Camp David agreement, which normalized ties between Egypt and Israel, through the invasion of the Philadelphi Corridor in southern Gaza. This invasion not only involved the Israeli army's Givati Brigades, who posted videos of themselves recklessly damaging the border crossing, but also resulted in the sealing off of a crucial aid route to Gaza's civilian population, who are facing famine.

Additionally, the Israeli government's persistent threats to invade Rafah since the beginning of the year, coupled with Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence on the necessity of invasion, have drawn concerns from the US. This move not only risks military defeat but also endangers the lives of over a million civilians, many of whom have nowhere else to seek refuge.

In early March, President Biden's interview with MSNBC added to the confusion, as he made contradictory statements regarding the Israeli invasion of Rafah, referring to it as a "red line" while also expressing reluctance to cut off all weapons supply.

The shifting stance of US policymakers extends beyond Biden's MSNBC interview. Despite initially opposing an invasion of Rafah, the US government later prepared a significant military aid package for Israel and hinted at supporting a limited invasion.

Reports of Biden's frustration with Netanyahu surfaced, followed by an American push for a "six-week ceasefire" in March, despite offering Hamas a detailed agreement to end the conflict.

While the US silently approved over 100 weapons transfers to aid the war effort against Gaza, it eventually abstained from a UN Security Council vote calling for a ceasefire until the end of Ramadan. In response, Israel canceled a planned high-level American delegation visit to Tel Aviv.

The US State Department declared the UN Security Council resolution passed the next morning as non-binding. This move not only contradicted the widely accepted understanding that UNSC votes are inherently binding but also signaled to Israel that it could violate the resolution with American support. While acknowledging the inevitable civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis an invasion of Rafah would cause, the US government has failed to take decisive action to prevent it or facilitate humanitarian aid. Despite having ample time to formulate a coherent policy, the US has been unable to clearly articulate its goals and red lines in the Gaza-Israel conflict, leading to inconsistent messaging and ineffective measures. Instead, the US's actions seem to prolong the conflict without a clear end goal or political solution in sight.