Israel War Cabinet Votes To Expand Rafah Offensive

Benjamin Netanyahu (Twitter)
May 10, 2024

Israel’s war cabinet on Thursday voted to expand its military’s planned operation in Rafah despite President Joe Biden’s increasing pressure on the Jewish state to not enter the southern Gazan city, three sources told Axios.

An "expansion of the area of ​​operation" of the Israel Defense Forces in Rafah was approved by the war cabinet Thursday evening, according to the outlet. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said the IDF will enter Rafah, the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza, to eliminate the remaining terrorists.

Two of the sources said the cabinet’s Thursday vote was meant to be a "measured expansion" that does not cross Biden’s "red line," while the third source said some of the expansion moves would likely be seen as crossing the line.

Biden has recently ramped up his criticism of Israel’s Rafah offensive after facing pressure from Democratic voters. The president earlier this week announced the United States would stop supplying certain weapons to Israel should the Jewish state choose to enter Rafah. 

"I made it clear that if [Israeli forces] go into Rafah—they haven’t gone in Rafah yet—if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem," Biden said during a CNN interview on Wednesday. 

The Biden administration has also reportedly already halted a shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs to Israel.

The IDF on Tuesday seized control of a strategic border crossing between Rafah and Egypt. While Israel said the border crossing was "used for terrorist purposes," some officials claimed the seizure has further disrupted the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

"We are in a week with a significant decrease in the aid that is going in," a Biden official said, according to Axios. "This is precisely the kind of thing we warned the Israelis against. It’s a microcosm of everything the Israelis have done for the past seven months, which is why we don't trust them at all to do Rafah right."