The Debate over the IDF’s Rafah Operation and Joe Biden’s Interference

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers conduct combat operations in the Gaza Strip. (Photo released 6 November 2023 courtesy of the IDF)


As Israel prepares for the final push through Rafah, President Biden announced that he will pause the delivery of some US weapons and ammunition to Israel, which is a huge mistake. It will embolden Hamas. Until a few days before, he was using US taxpayer money and US military personnel to build a pier to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, while simultaneously providing weapons to Israel. Ironically, the US also halted funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the primary humanitarian agency operating in Gaza. Cutting funding to UNRWA was justified by the fact that some of its members were found to have been terrorists who participated in the October 7th attack on Israel. But now, Biden is giving aid, more or less directly, to Hamas.

Biden is playing both sides at the same time. It is a dangerous game, and it will win him nothing. Israel supporters hate him for it. And the pro-Hamas crowd is not going to be happy until he stops supporting Israel altogether, which will never happen.

In a recent survey, only 38% of voters believe the US is doing too much to support Israel, while 50% more voters trust Trump than Biden to handle the situation.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has fought their way through to the final pocket of Rafah, which borders Egypt. The humanitarian crisis in Rafah is worsened by Egypt closing its border to keep out Hamas. With aid unable to enter through Egypt, Biden devised his nonsensical plan to airdrop aid to Gaza, helping Hamas hang on that much longer, prolonging the conflict and increasing civilian casualties.

Most of the world community is trying to stop Israel from carrying out its Rafah operation. Despite the unpleasant prospect of more destruction, Prime Minister Netanyahu believes he must push all the way through to destroy Hamas, as he sees it as the only path to peace for Israel. Biden’s decision to cut off weapons to Israel is not likely to halt the fighting. Netanyahu has emphasized that Israel will continue the fight with or without US munitions. However, without them, the conflict will continue and more civilians will die.

Furthermore, the US withholding military aid could lead to an increase in casualties for another reason. It may embolden Hezbollah to launch an attack, recognizing that Israel will be forced to prioritize its remaining munitions against multiple threats.

Ironically, if Hezbollah were to enter the conflict, the US is likely to become directly involved. Israel remains the US’s most important ally in the Middle East, and this alliance won’t be altered by the Israel-Gaza conflict. If the US ends up deploying troops or conducting targeted airstrikes and artillery barrages against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon, it would seem absurd if the Biden administration still refused to provide Israel with weapons. Additionally, it’s improbable that liberals would acknowledge and appreciate his restraint.

An unforeseen consequence of this conflict is that Palestine is closer to international recognition now than at any time in history. So far, 144 countries have voted to grant Palestine statehood. The Israeli ambassador to the UN has said that granting statehood to Palestine, with no mention of the October 7th massacre, would be like handing a reward to the Nazis for the Holocaust. Fortunately, the US blocked the resolution on Palestinian statehood.

The UN later voted to grant Palestine expanded rights and privileges; however, the US again vetoed. President Biden stated that the US would not agree until Israel had been consulted and until details such as “boundaries, security, and the future of Jerusalem” had been agreed upon. The president’s stance aligns with the US position of the last 75 years, which is also supported by most American Conservatives, but it has put Biden at odds with liberals. Nonetheless, there is no chance that liberals will vote for Trump. Therefore, in reality, Biden is taking no electoral risk.

Biden bailed on Afghanistan. Hopefully, he will not abandon Israel. Legally, he is not permitted to completely forsake Israel and is obligated to defend Israel at the United Nations. The Kirk-McCain Bill prohibits the US from contributing to U.N. agencies that grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority or the Palestine Liberation Organization. Consequently, if a U.N. agency were to grant full membership to a Palestinian state, the United States would be required to halt funding to that agency, which could encompass both dues and voluntary contributions. The US ceased funding to UNESCO in 2011 when it granted Palestine full membership.

Netanyahu believes that allowing the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to push through Rafah will terminate Hamas. However, many US military experts say it will not, as Hamas and its leadership would be cowering in tunnels and hiding among the civilian population. On the other hand, preventing Israel from attempting to do so would severely damage US-Israeli relations. It would also reinforce a message propagated by Russia and China, that the US is an unreliable partner. Additionally, it would embolden Hamas and Hezbollah, and demonstrate weakness on the part of the US.

Whether the Rafah operation succeeds in decimating Hamas or not, it needs to be attempted. Israel and the US have already employed a limited response strategy against Hamas and other Iran-backed terror groups for the past 70 years, with no discernible effect. Maybe an extreme response is what is needed. Also, a full-scale military operation might yield additional benefits.

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Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.

You can email Antonio Graceffo here, and read more of Antonio Graceffo's articles here.


Thanks for sharing!