March 11, 2024 | New York Post

Biden should draw red lines for Hamas — not Israel

March 11, 2024 | New York Post

Biden should draw red lines for Hamas — not Israel

President Biden on Saturday suggested he might cut off US military assistance to Israel if it moved forward with a military operation to dismantle Hamas’ last stronghold in the Gazan city of Rafah.

An Israeli victory over Hamas is now a red line for a president surrendering to a pro-Hamas political base.

Americans should understand the consequences of that red line: A guarantee that Oct. 7 will happen again, that hostages will never come home, that an emboldened Iran will escalate on all fronts and that Hamas-oppressed civilians will suffer indefinitely.

After dismantling Hamas’ operational control over northern and central Gaza, Israel today is fighting to destroy the group’s infrastructure in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Israel believes that Hamas’ top commanders are hiding, and holding an unknown number of hostages, in miles of underground tunnels between Khan Younis and Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah, which sits along the Egyptian border.

Once Khan Younis falls, Rafah will be Hamas’ last stand.

Israel’s stated objectives since Oct. 7 have been clear: Remove Hamas from power in Gaza and prevent Gaza from ever again becoming a launching pad for terror attacks on Israel.

With Rafah’s suspected weapons-smuggling tunnels running into the Sinai, four Hamas battalions and a likely underground fallback for the Hamas leadership, destroying Hamas there could be the deciding factor in whether Iran’s terror proxy survives the war.

The impact of this outcome on Israel’s long-term security cannot be understated.

The atrocities committed on Oct. 7 have few comparisons in modern history — the Holocaust being one.

Iran funded, equipped, trained and coordinated Hamas’ terror activities for decades — just as it continues to do for Hezbollah in Lebanon, militias in Syria and Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and terror cells throughout the West Bank.

Hamas is one of Tehran’s appendages — and if that appendage is not completely cut off and destroyed in response to Oct. 7, that massacre is guaranteed to be an opening act for other horror shows to come.

As for the civilians of Gaza — Hamas’ shields in war and media props for disinformation — few if any will publicly break from Hamas while the group remains in power.

Smuggling from south to north Gaza is already a problem, and it will grow exponentially.

Hamas is already threatening to kill any Palestinian who “collaborates” with Israel to deliver humanitarian aid to those in need.

Indeed, the terror-sympathizers who chant “Free Palestine” and oppose Hamas’ destruction in Rafah care nothing for Gaza’s civilian population.

Hamas, of course, could end the war quickly by surrendering and releasing all its remaining hostages, including six American citizens.

Moreover, if Israel located and killed Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, Hamas’ top two operatives in Gaza, mass surrender could follow.

But for now, Sinwar and Deif are entrenched underground — counting on Biden to pressure Israel into a permanent ceasefire that allows them to declare victory and build back their terror infrastructure.

Biden today is wielding Hamas disinformation as a weapon in pressuring Israel not to enter Rafah.

An estimated 1 million Palestinians who fled south during the war have taken refuge there, and the White House claims it has seen no plan from Israel to safely evacuate that population before commencing major operations against Hamas.

Washington and Saudi Arabia could put pressure on Egypt to open its border and allow for temporary tent cities to be established in the Sinai.

The Saudis could finance this with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees coordinating aid.

This would be the easiest way to minimize civilian harm, yet Biden chooses to pressure Israel into a Hamas victory instead of threatening American aid to Cairo if Egypt doesn’t comply.

In the face of Egyptian intransigence, Israel is reportedly planning to establish 15 sites with medical field clinics across the southwestern part of the Gaza Strip.

It did everything possible to enable civilian evacuation in every other major city where it defeated Hamas — and it will surely do the same in Rafah.

A recent poll found 75% of Israelis from across the political spectrum support completing the takedown of Hamas in Rafah.

They know the alternative puts an egg-timer on Israel’s future.

When given the order, Israel’s military will do what it does best: destroy the enemy, minimize civilian casualties and defend the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he has his own red line: that Oct. 7 never happens again.

With 34 Americans dead and six held hostage, that should be America’s red line, too. 

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former National Security Council official and senior US Senate aide.


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