Netanyahu pushed for immediate Rafah attack despite war cabinet objections: report

Netanyahu pushed for immediate Rafah attack despite war cabinet objections: report
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly pushed for immediate air and ground attacks into Gaza’s Rafah- despite the whole of the war cabinet objecting.
3 min read
09 May, 2024
Netanyahu was reportedly voted down by his entire war cabinet [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed an immediate military offensive on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip despite his war cabinet firmly objecting at a meeting last Thursday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported. 

According to a Haaretz source, everyone present at the war cabinet meeting apart from Netanyahu opposed the immediate offensive and it was voted down.

The source told Haaretz that some senior Israeli officials opposed plans to kickstart the Rafah offensive, saying that it would affect truce talks with Hamas. 

Other officials said that that no action should be taken without firstly considering a postwar plan for Gaza or the opinion of the US. 

The Haaretz report added that Netanyahu also sought to curtail the powers of the chiefs of the Mossad and Shin Bet to influence operations. 

 Netanyahu has not immediately commented following the allegations. 

However, earlier this week, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement that denied that the Israeli prime minister had attempted to interfere with negotiations for political purposes.  

A representative of war cabinet member Benny Gantz said following the allegations that they "do not comment to conversations behind closed doors." 

The latest claims come as Israel appeared ready to proceed with a major attack on Rafah - a city on the Egyptian border packed with Palestinian civilians who have fled Israel's ferocious and indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip.

President Joe Biden warned on Wednesday he would stop US weapons supplies to Israel if it attacks Rafah, in his most direct warning to date over the prosecution of the war on the besieged territory. 

In an interview with CNN, Biden also deplored the fact that civilians had been killed by US bombs in Gaza. Nearly 35,000 people have died as a result of Israel's war on the territory.

US officials say privately that the president's hand was forced after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear he would go ahead with an assault on Rafah, defying Biden's public appeals to spare the city. 

Under increasing pressure from the left of his own party to limit arms shipments, the Biden administration paused delivery last week of 1,800 2,000-pound (907 kilogram) bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs. 

Israel's incursion into eastern Rafah came after Hamas said it had accepted a truce proposal- one Israel said was "very far" from what negotiators had previously agreed to. 

On Wednesday, talks aimed at agreeing terms for a truce in the seven-month war were held in the Egyptian capital "with all sides present", according to the Egyptian state-linked media. 

The United States, Israel's close ally and top provider of military assistance, confirmed negotiations are still underway. 

Agencies contributed to this report.