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Israel stops playing games | WORLD

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: It’s Thursday, May 9, 2024. Glad to have you with us for today’s edition of The world and everything in it. Hello, my name is Lindsay Mast.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And my name is Myrna Brown. First, the red lines in Rafah.

On Monday, the Israeli army took control of Gaza’s southern border crossing with Egypt. This prevents the Hamas terrorist group from seizing humanitarian aid passing through the corridor.

MAST: But the United States and others fear that Israel will end up blocking aid to Palestinian civilians, more than a million of whom are in Rafah. The United States responded by suspending some previously promised military aid.

What does the new Israeli offensive mean for the war in Gaza and relations with the United States?

BROWN: Joining us now is Richard Goldberg. He served on the White House National Security Council under President Trump and previously advised Congress on U.S. foreign assistance. He is now a senior advisor to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

MAST: Rich, hello

RICHARD GOLDBERG: Hello.

MAST: Earlier this week, Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposal from Israel, but on the same day the Rafah offensive began, it reportedly accepted a ceasefire deal. Was this the same deal offered by Israel, or something different?

GOLDBERG: It wasn’t. It was materially different. It was a bit of a simulation of information warfare on the part of Hamas, as Israel had said, you know, time is up, we have been negotiating here literally for months, offering to negotiate against ourselves, offering everything we can think of like many terrorists from Israeli prisons to be released in exchange for a number of Israeli hostages. Then the number of Israeli hostages started to decrease because Hamas said, “Well, we don’t think we have enough hostages left alive.” And all these kinds of machinations and negotiations continued.

And Israel finally said, you know, we look like a desperate party here, and we’re not. So we’re going to go to Rafah, we’re going to launch a campaign to encircle the city, take control of the Egyptian border and put more pressure on Hamas to let the leaders know, that can be your end goal. We can move forward with this, or you can make a deal now. We are not continuing negotiations. Hamas said: No. The Israelis launched the offensive and, you know, six hours later, Hamas suddenly said: Oh, actually, we agreed to a deal. And it was wow, it worked for the Israelis. They got them. They agreed to a deal. Will Israel stop the offensive now?

And no one asked the question of what deal they agreed to? And it turns out that they had in mind a deal whereby Israel would permanently withdraw all its forces from Gaza, commit to permanently ending all military operations against Hamas, without even having to release the living people of the others hostages. be dead or alive. And for Israel, that means: well, no, we agree to a temporary ceasefire to make a deal to get more hostages out, but we don’t end the conflict. We are determined to expel you from Gaza. And we’re not going to make a deal where it’s like a box of crackers and we don’t know who we’re going to get. Whether they are dead or alive. We’ll wait to open the box. We want proof of life. We want our people back if they’re still alive, and we can bring them home.

Hamas is playing games. This is why Israel is moving forward in a very methodical and precise way, with its operation in Rafah, not yet a large-scale operation that we expected in the past, but which is slowly starting to evacuate the first neighborhoods, to try to put civilians out of danger and to cut off all access. escape routes across Egypt.

MAST: In the past, Rafa has often returned to the forefront. President Biden reportedly repeatedly warned Prime Minister Netanyahu against launching an offensive when they are so rich. Why is Raffa such a point of contention? And has Israel really crossed the line with this latest decision?

GOLDBERG: It’s hard to understand exactly why the Biden administration decided to eliminate the last remaining battalions for Hamas, to remove its last main command and control centers in Gaza, difficult to understand why they are so opposed to this let Israel do this. They’re hiding behind a facade that, well, we think a lot of civilians are going to die, and Israel has no way of doing that without causing a lot of civilian casualties. This doesn’t seem true to me. Because throughout this campaign, as they moved from northern Gaza to the south, the Israelis always launched any offensive by first facilitating the departure of civilians to safer areas and then taking measures to try to reduce civilian deaths as best as possible, while pursuing Hamas. , infrastructure, Hamas leadership.

And so what doesn’t make sense to me is why not help Israel achieve its goals in a way that mitigates civilian casualties and damage as much as possible? In reality, doubling down and supporting Israel in an operation in Rafah would likely be the quickest way to get Hamas to agree to a ceasefire agreement.

MAST: A question on arms shipments: How does the White House’s suspension of certain arms shipments to Israel – as has been reported – square with the fact that Congress has just approved spending billions in aid to Israel?

GOLDBERG: Unfortunately, that doesn’t add up. I mean, it’s a $95 billion emergency supplement that the president asked Congress for, a lot of money for Israel’s security, particularly for the resupply of munitions, the same munitions that the president now retains from Israel. Unfortunately, the President is giving in to political pressure and his base. And he is ignoring – and quite frankly – violating the will of the majority of Congress who just sent him a bill that he signed to ensure that Israel has all the ammunition it needs.

MAST: One last question, Rich. Is there another aspect of this story that you think deserves more attention?

GOLDBERG: Well, the one thing I would just remind people is that we are all very distracted right now, in some ways, by the various fires that Iran has started in the Middle East. We are hyper-focused on Gaza’s neighborhoods, losing focus on broader regional threats like Hezbollah, which is escalating on Israel’s northern border; Jordan which is flooded with weapons from Iran and which is destabilized; the threat from the Houthis which persists daily on the Red Sea. But ultimately, we are very distracted from Iran’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. And I’m very concerned that he’s moving toward that nuclear threshold under the cover of a weapon of mass distraction, which is all these fires that he’s started. And we need to make sure that we don’t take our eyes off the big ball, off the octopus head, and that we’re prepared to do what’s necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Because if you think we are currently determined in the region by Iran and its terrorist proxies, you will not like what the region will look like and what the rest of the world will look like if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

MAST: Lots to consider. Richard Goldberg is a former national security advisor and current senior advisor to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Richard, thank you for your time and analysis!

GOLDBERG: You bet!


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