Netanyahu’s Rafah Dilemma

Daifallah Mohammad Taha

Daifallah, a one-year-old baby, killed in an Israeli strike on Rafah, is trending on the X platform. 

Just for posterity, his name is Daifallah Mohammad Taha, one of the countless babies who were heinously killed in this slaughter of innocent civilians.

He joins the 14,000 children that have been killed by the Israeli war machine so far in the Gaza Strip. Israel considers these kids as collateral damage while the ‘humane western governments” not only look the other way but aid and abet the genocidal cabinet in Tel Aviv. 

Daifallah is just the latest casualty among the at least 20 killed, including five children, not of the injured as a result of direct Israeli airstrikes targeting three homes in the small city of Rafah, in south Gaza, Anadolu reports. Those killed soon rose to 25 people.

Disheartening images abound the social media of the mother, father and relatives bidding the baby their last farewell.

One blogger states “If there is something as divine intervention, then please make this stop.”

Israeli warplanes continually bomb individual homes under the pretext of looking for Hamas fighters but all they find are women, children and old people half dying of starvation.  

All Eyes on Rafah

The city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip is now at the end of the barrel of Israeli guns and missiles bombed on a daily basis with individual homes and neighborhoods of ordinary civilians struck to the ground.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israeli troops would enter Rafah but they have not done so yet, and although he has been saying that for at least a month.

But many say the latest stepping up of the bombings is preparation for all-out attack on the city.

Netanyahu is clearly involved in a game of procrastination and political posturing. His coalition government is split on the deadly Rafah ground troops invasion that is likely to lead to more massacres.

Some like Israeli Chief of Staff Harzi Halevi, Gadi Eisenkot and Benny Gantz in the War Cabinet believe the ground war on Rafah could be delayed in favor of negotiations over the possibility of Hamas freeing the 134-or-so Israeli hostages.

But this is totally rejected by extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who threatens Netanyahu of bringing the government coalition down if the later doesn’t hold good on his word to invade the city and flush out the rest of Hamas operatives as the Israeli prime minister himself claims.

But in comes the third party: The United States. Its president Joe Biden once told the Israelis, Rafah, which holds 1.4 million of displaced Palestinians told to go there by the Israelis because of being a “safe place”, was a red line. He, himself, in a posturing manner, quickly changing his tune.

“…Israel has agreed to “listen to US concerns and thoughts before launching an invasion of the border city of Rafah…” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, recently said.

But Israel knows what the USA thinks and Netanyahu already told them he is not listening but wants to tag them along because Washington is the main military supplier and this is why the bloody slaughter of Gaza has gone on for so long.

Bombing Rafah from the air

Meanwhile, Israel continues to bomb Rafah from the air. However, it has been reported recently about 30 soldiers in the Reserve Paratrooper Brigade have refused to obey army commands to prepare for coming miliary operation in Rafah.

According to Hebrew Channel 12 they told their commanders that they are suffering from exhaustion and inability to fight.

Israeli troops have been fighting in Gaza since 27 October 2023 when they began the ground invasion starting from north of the enclave and then moving to the center and the near south of Rafah. The TV report says there is a “clear indication of depleted reserve forces after months of fighting.”

In addition to fatigue, the Israeli army has been getting a clobbering all over Gaza.

Thousands have been killed by Palestinian resistance fighters, thousands have been injured and no longer of any use to the army.  As well of those that are resting, thousands are in need of psychological treatments in Israeli hospitals.

The Jewish state has been getting clobbered in terms of military hardware with around 1400 tanks and carriers being blown up and rendered useless.

This war on Gaza has been the hardest for Israel as they readily admit. If they go into Rafah there will be more dead not only on the Palestinian side but for Israeli as well.

Dr Marwan Asmar is an Amman-based writer covering Middle East affairs.

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