Who Can Make Netanyahu Not Enter Rafah?

Rafah Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be committing suicide if he orders his army to enter Rafah. This is because the military objectives would be too high and nefarious. This bloody slaughter in Gaza has come at a great cost not only for the Palestinians but for the Israelis as well.

In this war, there are only losers but Netanyahu and his extreme rightwing wing ministers refuse to believe that, saying Hamas must be eliminated at whatever cost. But this is far from the truth.   

All he would be achieving is creating a mass civilian bloodbath, taking into account that 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are already tight-packed into the small city. In this Israeli mass war on Gaza, it is he, who ordered Palestinians to move to the southern-most city from all over Gaza, in the first place.

If he orders the Israeli troops into the city all he would be doing is putting the civilians in the forefront of Israeli bombs and mass fire because of the clogged-up terrain of Rafah despite’s the fact his army is now telling displaced Palestinians to move back to Al Mowasi which is up further north to the east of Khan Younis. 

In effect, and in this war, Israel has only been playing with the Palestinian civilians, ordering them around and then shooting them and bombing them through freely-supplied American weapons.

Netanyahu is playing musical games with the internally displaced many of whom have been forced to move several times to get here and now many are on the move again through the dictates of a murderous army. However, a large number of Palestinians say they are not moving for there is nowhere else to go and despite the danger of being killed.

Death and survival have become an issue of martyrdom since the two percent of the Gazan population have already been killed in this war.

All Netanyahu would be doing is creating more anger against Israel from the international community many of whom are warning him not to invade Rafah. Already the Biden despite administration, and despite being the main military backer of Israel are telling Netanyahu not to invade because of the higher number if civilian deaths.  

Many experts also say if Netanyahu orders his troops in – some are already in different parts of the eastern part of the city and have taken control of the Rafah Crossing – he would be putting the lives of the hostages held by Hamas, now down to a 100, even in greater danger. This is because of the incessant air and sea bombings that would entail any ground troops operation inside the city.

Further, Israeli entry into the small city would be like a wild goose chase because nobody knows where the hostages are located in. They are likely separated and put in deep underground tunnels all around Gaza. Experts say up till now, and eight months into this bloody carnage, Israeli has only managed to destroy only 10 percent of the tunnels while the vast majority remain intact deep underground.

The other Netanyahu objective of crushing Hamas and the Palestinian resistance movement is proving a failure. In the eastern part of the city, Israeli troops are being met with tough resistance from Islamic Jihad fighters, just as elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. Hamas operatives are still launching missiles on the so-called Gaza envelope of Israeli settlements which means that their military capability remains intact.

This bloody war has been destructive for the Jewish state as many of the Israeli War Cabinet and military officers recognize and openly say the country has lost its way and should go for a peace deal to secure the release of the rest of the hostages because getting rid of the Palestinian resistance is by no means an easy task. However, Netanyahu is still to be convinced.

While his military machine is today striking different parts of the city and resulting in more deaths, his men are carefully talking on the negotiating table. But they don’t have any teeth because they need to get back to him on every point they make, despite the presence of their friends, the Americans and at the behest of the Qataris and Egyptian mediators.

They are at the final end of clenching a deal but they are not quite there yet because of the consternation of Netanyahu and his foot-dragging, leading many to suggest the Israeli prime minister is not interested in any solution but wants a perpetual war for his own domestic ends, and regardless of whether Hamas is gone or not. 

It is a break or make time! The war can end now because Hamas has accepted the deal put by the mediators but Netanyahu is playing for more time. The only country that holds the trump card and can make him stop the war is America. In a bid to force his hand and not enter Rafah the White House is starting to scale down on providing military shipments to Israel. If there is enough squeeze on him, he will be forced to accept a deal and stop the bloody carnage in Gaza. 

Dr Asmar is a political commentator from Amman, Jordan  

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