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Blinken Warns Israel It Risks Hamas Insurgency in Postwar Gaza

Blinken Warns Israel It Risks Hamas Insurgency in Postwar Gaza
Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, during a meeting with Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister, not pictured, at the US State Department in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Blinken said Hamas must decide if it will agree to a ceasefire, as the Israel-Hamas war enters its fifth month. Photographer: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel risks fueling a Hamas insurgency in postwar Gaza, cautioning that there will still be thousands of armed militants in the area even if Israel invades the city of Rafah.

It’s the latest warning in a steady escalation of US concern about Israel’s conduct of its Gaza offensive. Blinken broadly questioned Israel’s approach on Sunday, saying the Biden administration hasn’t seen a “credible” Israeli plan for shielding civilians in an assault on Rafah nor a postwar plan.

“Right now, the trajectory that Israel is on is, even if it goes in and takes heavy action in Rafah, there will still be thousands of armed Hamas left,” Blinken said on NBC’s Meet the Press. That leaves Israel potentially on track to “inherit an insurgency” or “a vacuum filled by chaos, filled by anarchy, and probably refilled by Hamas,” he said.

The Israeli military estimates 300,000 people have fled over the last week from Rafah, once a haven from Israeli bombardments in the north. More than 1 million people are estimated to be suffering from “catastrophic” food insecurity, according to the UN.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been pressing Israel for a postwar strategy almost since the conflict erupted with the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants.

“We’ve been working for many, many weeks on developing credible plans for security, for governance, for rebuilding,” Blinken said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “We haven’t seen that come from Israel.”

Biden’s decision to withhold a shipment of bombs from Israel as well as a State Department finding last week that Israel may have violated international law while using US-supplied weapons have further inflamed the US domestic debate over the war, which has turned into a liability for Biden’s reelection bid and caused rifts within his Democratic Party.

“Israel should not be receiving another nickel in US military aid,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said on Meet the Press.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, backed Biden’s weapons restrictions and called for sharper US criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “repeatedly ignored” Biden’s efforts to try to reduce civilian casualties, he said on Face the Nation.

Senator Chris Coons, a Biden ally and co-chair of his reelection campaign, said the president has warned Netanyahu privately for months that any Israeli assault on Rafah would have to minimize civilian casualties. At the same time, “Hamas, and their conduct, has largely driven the humanitarian crisis that continues in Gaza,” Coons said on ABC’s This Week.

Republican lawmakers largely criticized the withholding of weapons shipments to Israel. Senator Lindsey Graham said that it’s “impossible to mitigate civilian deaths in Gaza as long as Hamas uses their own population as human shields.”

“The last thing you want to do is reward this behavior,” Graham said on Meet the Press.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said the Biden administration is putting obstacles in Israel’s way in the “last step in the completion of their military objective.”

“For us to step in and say, ‘No, you can’t go into Rafah and finish the job,’ I think, is tantamount to an arms embargo,” the Texas Republican said on This Week.

Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 in Israel and taking 250 others hostage. Since Israel’s retaliatory military offensive, about 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza health ministry, which is run by Hamas. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Can you imagine a society so patently ignorant and unsophisticated, that they would allow Hamas to continue operating in an area which has been devastated as a direct result of the actions of said Hamas? It boggles the mind.

  • Albert.questiaux says:

    From the news reports, it seems the Israeli war is the only one worth reporting regularly on, as all others don’t involve Jews.
    What a biased world, that never changes.

  • albert glass says:

    Notice anything strange ?? Its called “hypocrisy” by world leaders. Any word or snigger about what Russia is doing NOW in Ukraine !!. Is it not cleansing but laundering…… !! Not even our venerable Minister from Dirco has uttered as much as a squeak !!! Dare not …. because mother Russia will be angry… How many faces can one have in this twisted bigotted world we live in ??

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