US Declares Israel Aid Conditional on Rafah Ops as IDF Battles Hamas

May 09, 2024

Reading time: 3 minutes

US aims to halt Israeli arms aid

For the first time, US President Joe Biden has personally declared that aid for Israel is conditional on how the IDF operates in Rafah. While the eyes of the world and Israel are on Rafah, where the IDF has begun a limited incursion into the eastern neighborhoods, elsewhere in the Gaza Strip a new reality is taking shape. Hamas is beginning to recover some of its military power and civil administration in areas where the IDF has vacated.

IDF Establishes Outposts and Infrastructure in Netzer Corridor

In recent days, the IDF has completed the construction of four large outposts along the Netzer clearing corridor, providing a semi-permanent camp for use by hundreds of soldiers from two reserve brigades. One brigade is responsible for securing the construction of a pier built by the US Navy and Army for supplying humanitarian aid to Gaza City. Other infrastructure has been built to monitor the security situation, including communications equipment, cameras, and expanding cellular service.

Hamas Attempts to Reinforce and Regroup

The IDF recently observed hundreds of Hamas terrorists moving to reinforce the shattered battalions in the central cities of the Strip. Hamas terrorists have become more passive in recent weeks, mostly launching scattered attacks. IDF intelligence believes Hamas is using this time to regroup and reorganize. Hamas has also sent fighters to try and impose civil administration on the civilian population in areas the IDF has withdrawn from.

IDF Continues Operations to Eliminate Hamas Threat

In the last 24 hours, IDF soldiers eliminated terrorists in several engagements and found and demolished tunnels and terrorist infrastructure. The destruction of smuggling tunnels is one of Israel's main strategic goals. The IDF aims to destroy Hamas to free Israel from the terrorist threat and liberate the Palestinian people from Hamas' tyranny.

US Signals Possible Pause in Weapons Shipments

In a CNN interview, President Biden said he will pause shipments of bombs and artillery shells to Israel if they start an extensive military operation in Rafah, beyond the current limited operation. The weapons shipment being delayed includes 1,800 900-kilogram bombs and 1,700 225-kilogram bombs. The US is considering delaying further arms shipments amid the widespread destruction heavy bombs have caused in the Strip.

Israel Disappointed But Not Surprised by US Decision

In Israel there is frustration and disappointment following the US decision. The talks on the subject have been a dialogue of the deaf, with Israel trying to convince US officials that its plan to protect civilians in Rafah would succeed. Israel has increased aid shipments to Gaza and helped establish a humanitarian port to try to convince the US a humanitarian disaster could be prevented.

Israel Can Manage Short-Term, But Symbolic Message Damaging

At this stage Israel has sufficient weapons supplies to continue operations, but will soon need to be selective in targets. The bigger problem is the symbolic message the US decision sends. It could signal to Hamas that if they bide their time, the US and world opinion will allow them to end the war and retain their rule over Gaza. Cutting off precision weapons could also lead to more civilian casualties, counter to the US goal.

Potential Implications for Northern Front

In the short term, Israel can manage as long as delivery of air defense systems continues. There are signs of renewed Congressional interest, mainly among Republicans, in standing with Israel. The withheld large bombs could be important for Israel's defensive plans if war with Hezbollah in the north expands.

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