update deskIsrael at War

Israeli diplomatic source: Biden could ‘throw Israel under the bus’

"We are at a critical moment in the campaign. If the Americans turn their backs on Israel, the implications for the entire region will be severe."

U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

An Israeli diplomatic source expressed concern on Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden could “throw Israel under the bus” amid the Israel Defense Forces operation against Hamas’s final Gaza stronghold of Rafah, which got underway overnight Monday.

“The Biden administration says it is committed to eliminating Hamas, but in practice it is pressing to avoid action in the last major stronghold of the terrorist organization, against the backdrop of elections there,” according to the source in Jerusalem.

“But the Americans need to understand that the factor that wants to delay Rafah is Iran, for whom keeping Hamas on its feet is in its interest,” he added.

The comment comes after Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Monday that a ceasefire deal with Hamas is the best way to protect the lives of the 132 hostages being held by the terrorist organization in Gaza.

During the half-hour call, which the source described as “difficult,” Biden expressed his concerns over the looming Rafah operation. 

According to a White House readout, the president “reiterated his clear position on Rafah” and updated Netanyahu on “efforts to secure a hostage deal, including through ongoing talks today in Doha, Qatar.”

The Israel Defense Forces took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Tuesday morning, as tanks from the 401st Armored Brigade of the 162nd Division rolled right up to the station.

Separately, the IDF’s Givati Brigade captured the Salah a-Din road in eastern Rafah in an overnight offensive.

The capture of the crossing comes after the IDF announced on Monday night that it was conducting strikes against Hamas targets in eastern Rafah. More than 100 sites were hit in the city, where the majority of the terror group’s remaining forces are located.

Israel’s War Cabinet on Monday night decided unanimously to “continue the operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas in order to promote the release of our hostages and the other goals of the war,” per the Prime Minister’s Office.

Earlier Monday, the IDF called on residents of eastern Rafah to evacuate to newly established humanitarian zones.

The Israeli source went on to say that, “We are at a critical moment in the campaign. If the Americans turn their backs on Israel, the implications for the entire region will be severe. The initiation of the operation in Rafah is the only leverage that could cause Hamas leader [in Gaza] Yahya Sinwar to agree to a prisoner exchange deal, which is the only way to reach a larger deal with Saudi Arabia.”

The source also revealed that the decision to press forward in Rafah was approved by the Cabinet after all its members agreed that the chances of a deal are currently nonexistent.

Originally published by Israel Hayom. JNS staff contributed to this report.

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